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Children are Especially at Risk for Drowning

Statistically, children in the United States are particularly vulnerable to the risk of drowning -- and children in Delaware are no exception.
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    January 11, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Children are especially at risk for drowning

Statistically, children in the United States are particularly vulnerable to the risk of drowning -- and children in Delaware are no exception. From 1999 through 2008, an average of more than 815 children under age 14 died each year in drowning accidents, according to data published by Safe Kids USA. And every year in that same time period, an average of over 3,700 children experienced near-drowning injuries that did not result in death.

Children at highest risk

The statistics compiled by Safe Kids USA indicate that children under age five make up more than three-fourths of drowning fatalities and nearly 80 percent of the near-drowning victims treated in emergency rooms. Drowning fatalities disproportionately affect male children -- at twice the rate of female children -- and African-American children -- three times as often as white children.

For children between one and four years old, most drownings take place in swimming pools. About half occur at the child's home, and another 25 percent happen at the home of a friend or relative. Among children who die from drowning someplace other than in a pool, lower-income children are at greater risk.

Swimming pool safety

Drains in swimming pools pose additional risks. About 100 children became trapped in drains from 1990 to 2005, according to Safe Kids USA. Getting hair entangled in a drain happened 43 times from 1990 to 2004. These risks can be reduced with the use of drain covers and other safety devices.

Safe Kids USA's sources claim that encircling pools with fencing could reduce the number of child drowning fatalities by 50 to 90 percent. Using pool alarms and automatic covers could also help.

Other safety issues

In 2010, nine children aged 12 and under drowned while engaged in recreational boating, and more than half of them were not wearing a life jacket or other flotation device. Boats are required to carry a personal flotation device for each person on board, and the U.S. Coast Guard mandates that children under 13 must wear a personal flotation device while on a recreational vessel.

Bathtubs or large buckets are the most common location for drowning deaths among babies under one year old. Consumer safety efforts have resulted in labeling and education to help avoid the risk of small children falling into large buckets and drowning.

Liability for drowning accidents

Because owners and occupants are responsible for protecting visitors from unreasonable risks -- for example, by adding fencing around a swimming pool -- when a drowning or near-drowning occurs on private property, property owners or occupants may be held responsible under premises liability law.

Nearly nine times out of 10, when a child drowns, someone claims to have been supervising the child at the time. Failure to provide adequate supervision may be grounds for legal liability.

When a child has drowned or been injured in a near-drowning, his or her family may be able to obtain some financial compensation if negligence can be proven. A personal injury attorney will be able to advise a family about the options that may be available.

Article provided by Law Offices of Joseph J. Rhoades, Esq.
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