Deer Valley, AZ – The subject of child drownings often receives attention from parents and caregivers here in Arizona, and for good reason, with our community’s history of tragedy. Just this weekend, a three year old boy drowned after being found in a backyard pool in Phoenix.
Talking about the issue isn’t enough – effective prevention means constantly examining new data, looking deeper at the issue, and offering advice to parents based on the very latest findings. As the temperatures rise this spring in the Valley of the Sun, here are five facts to know about child drownings:
1. Fatal child drownings decreased significantly in 2013, but non-fatal injuries may not have. From 2012 to 2013, the number of fatal teen and child drownings fell from 20 to 14. However, in the same period, the number of children and teens estimated to have suffered a lifelong disability fell by just one, from nine to eight.
2. Arizona is still ranked number two in the nation for child drownings. According to the most recent Center for Disease Control data, the per-capita child drowning rate for children age five and under from 2000 to 2010 was 4.45, placing Arizona second, behind Florida. Our rate is nearly twice as high as the national rate of 2.33 children per 100,000 in the same time period.
3. Child drowning risk remains significant in 2014. Drowning was the leading injury-related cause of death for children ages five and under, according to Child Fatality Data released by the Arizona Department of Health Services last fall.
4. Recent reports and studies show effective messages to parents are critically needed. A May survey by the American Red Cross found that two thirds of parents mistakenly believe that putting inflatable arm bands, or “floaties” on children is enough to keep them safe while swimming. Additionally, a 2013 study published in Accident Analysis and Prevention indicated that parents of children in swimming lessons made significant errors in estimating their child’s swimming lesson abilities, which is likely to lead to misjudging the need to supervise children carefully.
5. Recommendations should focus on evidence-based information. Look first at strategies designed to prevent emergencies. Constant, capable supervision of children around the water is a central strategy in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement on the prevention of child drownings. Examination of media clippings indicates that the absence or failure to effectively use barriers like pool fences is a major factor in many child drownings in the Valley. Finally, swimming lessons for children and CPR for adults are needed, with complete education to help families understand that nothing takes the place of effective adult supervision.
For additional information about child drowning prevention, visit www.phoenixchildrens.org.
About Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Phoenix Children’s Hospital is Arizona’s only children’s hospital that is ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals. Phoenix Children’s provides world-class inpatient, outpatient, trauma, emergency and urgent care to children and families in Arizona and throughout the Southwest. As one of the largest children’s hospitals in the country, Phoenix Children’s provides care across over 75 pediatric specialties. The Hospital is poised for continued growth in quality patient care, research and medical education. For more information about the hospital, visit www.phoenixchildrens.org.