Most Child Drowning Victims Ignored
April 29, 2004 -- Contrary to popular belief, most children who
drowned were not alone. A new report shows that 88% of child drowning victims
were under the supervision of another person, usually a family member.
Researchers say drowning is the second leading injury-related
cause of death for children aged 1 to 14, claiming more than 900 children's
lives in the U.S. each year.
The report, released today by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign
and Johnson & Johnson, shows better, quality supervision of children in the
water is needed.
"Adults need to actively supervise children around
water. This means watching and listening at all times and staying close enough
to intervene in an emergency," says Martin Eichelberger, MD, director of
emergency trauma services at Children's National Medical Center in Washington,
and CEO of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, in a news release.
In addition, researchers say water safety measures, such as
personal floatation devices, fencing of pool areas, and teaching children to
swim are underutilized.
Child Drowning Dangers Revealed
For the study, researchers examined the circumstances regarding
unintentional drowning deaths of 496 children aged 14 years and under, which
occurred in 2000 and 2001 in 17 states. These cases represented 89% of all
unintentional drowning deaths reported in these areas during that period.
Sixty percent of the drowning deaths reviewed occurred in
children aged 4 and younger, 23% among children aged 5 to 9, and 17% among
those 10 to 14. Most of the victims were boys (72%).
Researchers found 88% of the drowning victims were under some
form of supervision at the time of the incident, 46% were under the care of a
parent, and 25% were in the care of another relative. Only 10% were completely
unsupervised at the time of drowning.
Most (79%) of the unsupervised drowning victims were older
children between the ages of 5 and 14.
In addition, the study showed that 68% of the children were
known to be in or near the water at the time of the drowning and 32% were last
known to be in another location or around the home.