As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, more people are installing backyard swimming pools in North Carolina, making the risk of drowning more prevalent. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, who also serves as Safe Kids N.C. Chair, reminds all families of the dangers of drowning.
“Water safety remains as important as ever, especially due to the fact that many new pools are being installed as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Commissioner Causey. “Swimming pool installers in North Carolina are mostly backed up until the middle of 2021, so it’s very important for us to continue to push water safety and prevent as many drownings as possible.”
Drowning is leading cause of death among kids ages 1 to 4 in the United States, and a new report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicates that drownings have risen steadily in the past several years.
The report found that between 2015 and 2017, an average of 379 children drowned in a pool every year — most of them at home.
In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, the reported fatalities spiked to an all-time high of 395. Residential locations, such as a child’s home, a family or friend’s house or a neighbor’s residence, made up 71% of the reported fatal drowning incidents.
In addition to fatal drownings, CPSC’s new data shows that there were an estimated 6,700 pool-or-spa-related, hospital emergency department-treated, nonfatal child drowning injuries each year for 2017 through 2019. This is the equivalent of about 18 children every day, 365 days a year.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey offers the following tips to help prevent drownings and keep children safe no matter where they are spending time around the water this season, and particularly during an extended time at home:
- Never leave a child unattended in or near water, and always designate an adult water watcher. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smartphone or be otherwise distracted. In addition to pools and spas, this warning includes bathtubs, buckets, decorative ponds, and fountains.
- If you own a pool or spa, install layers of protection, including a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
- Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults. Many communities offer online CPR training.
- Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
- Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards and if you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safer drain covers.
For more information about water safety, contact Safe Kids N.C. Director of Injury Prevention Shannon Bullock at Shannon.Bullock@ncdoi.gov or call 919.647.0081.