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Unintentional drownings: What you should know


Unintentional drownings are most common in the summer months, when children and families go to public pools, lakes and other waterways to cool off. Unintentional drownings affect around 10 people each day in the United States, with two of the 10 being 14 or younger.

Even though only one in five people who die from drowning are children, for each death, there are five other children who have to receive emergency medical care for nonfatal submersion injuries. That’s part of the reason why it’s so important for premises owners to make sure pools or lakes aren’t easy for children to access alone.

Although it’s normal to think of drowning as being deadly, that’s not the case; not all drownings result in death. Nonfatal drownings can require long-term care due to the severe brain damage that can be caused by the lack of oxygen in the body. Memory problems, the loss of basic functioning and other issues are all common.

There are a number of factors that influence the risk of a person drowning, from being a poor swimmer to having unsupervised access to water. Premises liability, in these cases, would look at if the owner of a facility took steps to prevent unintentional entry into a pool or if the area around the lake or pool was safe. For example, children between the ages of 1 and 4 are most likely to drown in home swimming pools; if the homeowner doesn’t have fencing around the pool or makes it easy for a toddler to gain access, then that person could be held accountable for your child’s injuries or death.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts,” accessed June 24, 2016

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