Unintentional drowning is the leading cause of death in children under the age of four, after congenital defects.
Ten Americans die by drowning every day – amounting to more than 3,500 deaths a year, according to the latest CDC figures.
Children account for one in five of those deaths, or around 700 a year – and many of those child drowning deaths take place in sunny California, where many homes have swimming pools.
While the state implemented stricter compulsory safety features for private pools in January, most existing pools do not have high level protections. Health officials are also pushing for more children to take swimming lessons, but for the youngest kids that’s not much help.
Last weekend, Olympic skier Bode Miller revealed his 19-month-old daughter lost her life after falling into their neighbor’s private pool.
The news has reignited the CDC’s calls for more to be done to curb the most common preventable cause of child death.
A fifth of drowning deaths a year involve kids, and many are in California
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming lessons from the age of four. Previously, the board opposed swimming before that age, but now says it is ‘not opposed’ to swimming programs for kids from the age of one.
As of January 1, 2018, California implemented a new law stipulating tighter safety measures new private pools need to feature to prevent unintentional drowning, including a self-closing gate and an automatic alarm.
The rules, passed in December 2017 and implemented in January, outlines clearer and stricter measures than ever for private pools.
Now, any pool built in the golden state must include:
- An enclosure isolating the pool or spa from a single-family home
- A qualified, removable mesh fencing with a self-closing, self-latching gate with a lock
- An approved safety pool cover
- Exit alarms on the home’s doors that provide direct access to the swimming pool or spa
- On home doors leading to a pool or spa, a self-closing, self-latching device with a release mechanism that is at least 54 inches above the ground
- An alarm that, when placed in the swimming pool or the spa, sounds when an unauthorized person enters the water
- Another means of protection accepted under the law
But most existing pools do not have high level protections.
Olympic skier Bode Miller’s 19-month-old daughter lost her life falling into their neighbor’s private pool in California on Saturday
Emeline Grier Miller, Bode Miller’s daughter with a beach volleyball player Morgan Beck, was found on Saturday in their neighbor’s pool in Orange County, California.
She had been under water ‘for around two minutes’.
Emeline was rushed to nearby Mission Hospital before passing away on Sunday night, with paramedics unable to revive the infant.
A spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said that the death is still under investigation at this time.