Drowning: Leading Cause of Accidental Death for Young Children

In the wake of the Olympic Games, where the world watched remarkable swimmers like Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin race for gold, it is important to take a moment to consider the necessity of swimming safety. Lakes and swimming pools are popular escapes for Chicago residents in the summer; however, it is crucial to ensure children and those unable to swim are properly protected while enjoying the water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 4.”

This summer has been no exception. Figures released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission indicate that since Memorial Day, there have been 90 tragic occasions in which children have drowned across the country. Further, emergency crews have been called 106 times to respond to reports of near-drownings. Of those incidents, 72 percent involved children under the age of 5.

In addition to young children being particularly in danger, USA Swimming has reported that minority communities are also at a higher risk than the general population. In minority populations, the number of drowning events among children is over twice the national average. Another group identified as being at a higher risk of drowning is males, as the CDC reported approximately 80 percent of drowning victims are men or boys.

Across the country, between 2005 and 2009, the CDC reported that there were approximately 3,880 fatalities each year due to drowning. Further, around 5,789 individuals were taken to hospitals to be treated following narrow escapes.

When an incident occurs in a swimming pool on someone else’s property, whether personal or public, the property owner may be liable for damages.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor, “90 child drownings since Memorial Day: waterproof your kids,” Allison Terry, July 26, 2012.