With Labor Day behind us and the end of summer approaching, most of Frankfort and Franklin County’s outdoor pools have closed for the year.
Although there was one near pool drowning in Franklin County, the 7-year-old child recovered completely after receiving early CPR and medical care. A recent report shows that much of the nation was not as fortunate.
At least 202 children from 1 to 14 years of age drowned in a swimming pool or spa from Memorial Day through Labor Day in the United States this year.
Of the victims, 143 were under the age of 5. The USA Swimming Foundation compiled this tragic tally from media reports.
The states with the highest number of pool and spa drownings among children under 15 years old include: Texas (28), Florida (24), California (23), Ohio (11), New York (11), Arizona (10), Pennsylvania (9), Tennessee (8), North Carolina (8), Louisiana (7) and Illinois (7).
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s annual Submersion Report had consistent findings. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among 1-4 year olds and the second leading cause of death for 5-14 year olds.
The CPSC report found an average of 390 drowning fatalities per year among children under 15 years of age from 2008 to 2010. An additional 5,100 submersion injuries were treated in emergency departments each year from 2010 to 2012.
Children are at the greatest risk for drowning, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African American children between the ages of 5 and 19 are six times more likely to drown in pools than white and Hispanic children of the same age.
Children who cannot swim are, of course, more likely to drown and data indicates that 70 percent of African American children, 60 percent of Hispanic children and 40 percent of white children cannot swim.
To prevent injuries, promote safety and protect health, the Franklin County Health Department performs a monitoring inspection every 30 days and full inspection twice a year for all public pools. This inspection includes verifying that all safety equipment is in perfect condition and that all permits and licenses are properly maintained.
However, 73 percent of child fatalities as a result of pool or spa drowning occur at residential locations according to the CPSC report. CPSC’s Pool Safely advice includes: fence all pools, stay close to children in the water, be alert and teach children how to swim.
FCHD Environmental Health Director Kendra Palmer said, “Owners of private pools should make sure deck areas are kept clear, ensure that children never run around deck areas and that no one ever swims alone.”
Pool Safely also recommends designating a water watcher that should not be reading, texting or otherwise distracted; learning how to perform CPR; keeping children away from pool drains, pipes or other openings that could cause entrapment; and ensuring that all pools and spas have drain covers that comply with federal safety standards.
For more information about pool safety, parents and caregivers are encouraged to visit PoolSafely.gov.