(KRON) — More than 300 people have drowned in pools in California since 2018, and nearly half of those drownings involved children, according to a new report released by insurance tool Quote Wizard.
The report shows that 339 people drowned in California pools since 2018, more than nearly any other state. The only state that had more pool drownings than California was Florida which reported 415 from 2018 to 2020.
According to the report, drowning is the leading cause of death for children under age five, and the second-leading cause of death for children under age 14. Of the more than 300 drownings in California since 2018, 112 of them resulted in the death of a child under the age of five.
All drowning experiences can have a large impact, even those that aren’t fatal. Nick VinZant, a senior analyst with Quote Wizard, spoke with KRON4 about how a drowning incident changed his life as a kid, “My father was a family physician, and he had a patient come in that had drowned and there was nothing he could do.” After that experience, VinZant remembers his mother watching him while he swam–even after he turned seventeen.
VinZant says it’s important to remember that making a mistake with water can have permanent impacts, “With water there is very rarely a second chance.” For many parents, finding a child struggling in the water and pulling them out “in time” is scary enough, but there is also the risk of secondary drowning.
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Secondary drowning, otherwise known as dry drowning, is when a person inhales water due to a near drowning or other struggle in the water. Water can then get trapped in the lungs and cause pulmonary edema, or a fluid buildup in the lungs. A person experiencing secondary drowning can appear to breathe normally for anywhere from 4-48 hours before an issue becomes apparent. VinZant says that any time someone struggles in the water, they should consider getting checked out by a medical professional.
VinZant hopes that parents will focus on the fact that water deaths are preventable and remain vigilant, “I think it’s important to remember that just because there’s a lifeguard, just because they know how to swim, just because they have a flotation device, that does not prevent drowning,” he told KRON4. For more information on how to protect little ones near water, check out the tips below.
Tips for keeping children safe near the water:
- Designate one person to watch each child. If everyone is watching everyone, no one is watching anyone
- Install water barriers around pools and spas (hot tubs)
- If a child is missing, check the water first
- Have a list of the rules and safety instructions and enforce them at all times with all guests
- Know basic water rescue skills like first aid and CPR
- Floaties do not prevent drownings
- Keep the pool visible at all times. Make sure you can see the bottom and remove toys from the pool when not being used
An additional challenge with drowning incidents is homeowner insurance. Many homeowners do not know that if someone is injured on property that you own, it’s your home insurance’s liability that will cover medical bills and civil settlements. Because of this increase liability, the insurance industry often refers to pools as “attractive nuisances,” according to the report. This means it behooves all homeowners to read up on their liability coverage before hosting pool parties.