Preventing Accidental Injury.
KDHE Office of Communications
Topeka, Kan. — It’s a warm summer day and you’re at the beach with your kids. Your cell phone rings and you answer it, shifting your focus from your kids to the conversation. Good idea? Not at all, according to Safe Kids Kansas, and it could even be deadly. Children can get into trouble in a matter of seconds when around water, so Safe Kids Kansas recommends that parents actively supervise – with their eyes on their kids at all times – when they are in or near the water.
Drowning is the second highest cause of unintentional death for children ages one to four and 10 to 14 in the U.S. Approximately three out of four pool submersion deaths and 3 out of 5 pool submersion injuries occur at a home pool. Overall, approximately 830 children ages 14 and under die each year due to unintentional drownings, and on average, there are an estimated 3,600 injuries to children after near-drowning incidents each year in the United States. In Kansas, from 2000-2008 there were 129 unintentional injuries from near-drowning related incidents among Kansas kids age 14 and younger. From 2000-2009, there were 73 unintentional drowning related deaths in Kansans age 14 years and younger. Three-quarters of these deaths occurred to children ages three and younger.
“Kids drown quickly and quietly,” said Cherie Sage, State Director for Safe Kids Kansas. “A drowning child cannot cry or shout for help. The most important precaution for parents is active supervision. Simply being near your child is not necessarily supervising.”
To help keep kids safe this pool season, Safe Kids Kansas recommends these precautions:
These guidelines apply to inflatable and portable pools, not just in-ground pools. A child can drown in just an inch of water. Kiddie pools should be emptied and stored out of reach when not in use.
Even a near-drowning incident can have lifelong consequences. Kids who survive a near-drowning may have brain damage, and after four to six minutes under water – the damage is usually irreversible. Although 90 percent of parents say they supervise their children while swimming, many acknowledge that they engage in other distracting activities at the same time – talking, eating, reading or taking care of another child.
“A supervised child is in sight at all times with your undivided attention focused on the child,” said Sage. When there are children in or near the water, adults should take turns serving as the designated “Water Watcher,” paying undivided attention. Visit www.safekids.org to download a free Water Watcher badge.
Anti-Entrapment Law Will Help Save Lives
One of the most horrific ways for a child to be injured or killed in a pool or hot tub is entrapment. On Dec. 19, 2007, President Bush signed the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act into law. The law is named for the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III. Graeme died tragically at the age of 7 in 2002 after being trapped under water due to the suction from a spa drain.
The law makes it illegal to manufacture, distribute or sell drain covers that do not adhere to the standards for anti-entrapment safety set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The Act also requires public pools and spas to be equipped with these anti-entrapment drain covers as well as a device to disable the drain in the event of an entrapment. Another important component of the law is that it establishes a grant program to reward states that adopt comprehensive laws mandating certain safety devices for all pools and spas. Additionally, the law creates a national drowning prevention education program and media campaign administered by the CPSC.
For more information about drowning and water safety, call Safe Kids Kansas at 785-296-0351 or visit www.safekids.org.
Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of over 70 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters cover Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Butler, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Elk, Ellis, Finney, Geary, Harvey, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Kiowa, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Mitchell, Montgomery, Pottawatomie, Riley, Saline, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Smith, Sumner and Wilson counties, as well as the city of Emporia and the Metro Kansas City Area (Wyandotte county and several Missouri counties.) Safe Kids Kansas a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Visit us at www.safekidskansas.org and on Facebook.