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From Products Liability Law Daily, May 31, 2018

CPSC publishes reports on fatal child drownings, suction entrapment incidents

By Colleen Kave, J.D.

With the arrival of the summer swimming season, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued two reports concerning water safety. While the findings presented in the reports are promising, CPSC Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle is encouraging families and caregivers to remain vigilant while supervising children in and around the water this summer (CPSC News Release, May 30, 2018).

The 2018 report, Pool or Spa Submersion: Estimated Nonfatal Drowning Injuries and Reported Drownings, indicates that the number of reported fatal child drowning incidents in swimming pools involving children younger than five has not increased significantly from last year’s report. Nonetheless, while the number of reported child drownings has remained nearly the same year after year, fatal and nonfatal child incidents in pools and spas continue to pose a public health risk across the United States. According to the latest CPSC data, an estimated average of 6,400 children younger than 15 years old were reportedly treated in hospital emergency rooms for nonfatal drowning injuries in pools or spas between 2015 and 2017. Seventy-four percent of reported fatal drowning incidents, and at least 45 percent of reported nonfatal drowning incidents for children younger than 15, occurred at residential locations. The majority of the estimated hospital emergency room-treated, nonfatal drowning injuries for 2015 through 2017, and the reported fatal drownings for 2013 through 2015, were associated with pools (versus spas).

A second report, 2013-2017 Reported Circulation/Suction Entrapment Incidents Associated with Pools, Spas, and Whirlpool Bathtubs, 2018 Report, revealed that since the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act went into effect in December 2008, there have been no reported fatalities involving a child being entrapped on a suction outlet cover in a public pool or spa.

In order to prevent drowning tragedies, Chairman Buerkle urged parents and caregivers to follow CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign’s water safety steps, including: constant adult supervision; four-sided fencing around pool areas; knowledge of CPR; and swimming lessons for children. "These incidents are preventable," Buerkle asserted. "As a mother, grandmother and registered nurse, I raised my kids, and now my grandkids, with a respect for water. Swimming should be a fun way for families to be active, as long as everyone knows how to pool safely."

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