A spike in child drownings and drowning scares has prompted Santa Clara County health officials to issue a public warning. At least eight kids have been rushed to the Valley Medical Center (VMC) in the past two months to be treated for drowning. Two of them died. That’s already more cases than the county saw in all of 2017.
The first fatality this year occurred on May 17. The eight children range from the ages of 18 months to 11 years old. Five of them were under the age of 4.
Health officials released a statement asking that adults take precautions to avoid any drownings as more kids spend their time in and around the water during the summer.
The warning highlighted public education campaign “Pool Safely” run by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which offers parents, caregivers and pool owners information on steps that need to be taken to protect children around pools and spas.
From Memorial Day through Labor Day nationwide last year, at least 163 children under the age of 15 died by drowning, according to federal statistics. Nearly 70 percent of those children were younger than 5.
Reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cite drowning as the leading cause of accidental death for children of aged 1 to 4, with most of the incidents occurring in home swimming pools.
More than half of all child drowning victims who get treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or specialized care. Nonfatal drownings have been known to cause severe brain damage and result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning impediments and the permanent loss of basic functioning.
According to the county, prevention begins with these layers of protection:
- Install a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas.
- Designate an adult Water Watcher to supervise children at all times around the water.
- Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
- Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
- Teach children to stay away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
- Ensure any pool or spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. If you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safer drain covers.