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Drowning Risk Higher for Minorities, Children Under 5

With temperatures soaring into the 90s on any given summer day, Texans are spending lots of time in their backyard swimming pools either at their own homes or those of friends and family. After all, residential pools are far safer than public pools or the beach, right? Actually, statistics show just the opposite is true, say personal injury and premises liability attorneys in the Houston area.

Research from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows that most accidental drownings happen not at water parks or beaches, but in residential swimming pools. And statistics from various sources including the CPSC, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USA Swimming show that children younger than five years old are at the highest risk for drowning.

If you're a parent or guardian or the owner of a residential pool or spa, it's critical that you know the dangers:

  • 85 percent of all fatal drowning occur at residential swimming pools and spas;
  • More than 75 percent of pool and spa drowning deaths are children age four and younger;
  • 73 percent of the drowning fatalities and half of swimming-related injuries involving children younger than 15 occurred at private residences;
  • Children between the ages of 1 and 3 represent 67 percent of reported swimming-related fatalities and 64 percent of injuries.

Research also shows that minority children are at greater risk, primarily because they're less likely to know how to swim. According to statistics, 70 percent of African American children and 62 percent of Hispanic children do not know how to swim. African American children ages 5 to 19 are six time more likely to drown in swimming pools than are white or Hispanic children of the same age range.

To help keep your children safe this summer, make sure they have responsible adult supervision every minute that they're in or near a swimming pool. Keep the surrounding pathways clear of tripping hazards and insist that children walk rather than run near the pool. If your child is an inexperienced swimmer, enroll him or her in a swimming and safety course and have them wear life vests. Instruct kids to stay away from pool drains, pipes and other openings that can prove entrapment hazards. And, keep these three items nearby at all times: a first-aid kit; a pair of scissors to cut hair, clothing or other items that may entrap or hold a child underwater; and a fully charged cell or portable phone to call 911.