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Drowning: Who, why and prevention tips

There have been as many drownings so far in 2014 than there were all last year in and around Phoenix. According to, 2013 was plagued by 14 drowning deaths. This year, most of the incidents were at pools without fences and the majority of children involved were under the age of 6 years old.

Who drowns?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning, making the fifth highest cause of accidental injury death. One in five of those who drown are aged 14 or younger, and for every child that drowns, five children are taken to emergency facilities for submersion injuries. Almost 80 percent of drowning victims are males. While African-American children between the ages of 5 and 19 have a rate of drowning in swimming pools five and a half times that of white children, specifically African-American children aged 11 and 12 are at 10 times the amount of risk. The CDC doesn't know the cause of these increased rates as the figures were taken based on population numbers.

There are many reasons why swimmers drown. First and foremost is the lack of ability. The CDC stated that formal swimming lessons decrease the risk of drowning.

The second most frequent cause is the lack of pool fencing or a broken pool fence. Pools with a four-sided fence have a risk of drowning reduced by 83 percent compared to properties that utilize a home or backyard fixture as one side of a fence. The National Drowning Prevention Alliance suggests a pool fence be at least 60 inches tall with a self-closing latch and to never prop open the gate.

Lori Schmidt, President of the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona told, "There's no magic bullet to prevent drowning. But there are things that are going to help us reduce the risk."­

Learning how to swim is an important way to practice pool safety. One of CDC study found that it's easier to learn how to swim the younger you are. Teach children as soon as they're ready. Also, using a life jacket is always safer than using inflatable armbands.

Even if everyone in your family knows how to swim, never allow anyone to swim unsupervised. Always have someone else with you. However, don't allow children to supervise one another. The NPDA states that there's no substitute to having an adult supervise. Additionally, learn CPR and rescue breathing. Every second without oxygen is a dangerous one.

Other suggestions include avoiding drinking alcohol before you swim and always having a phone nearby when someone is swimming. Definitely don't consume alcohol if you're supervising swimmers. Alcohol is involved in 70 percent of adult and adolescent swimming deaths. Also, a phone is useful so you never have to leave the pool unattended and it can save a life if you need help.

For more safety tips, to install pool safeguards and to repair your pool or fence, call your local Phoenix pool maintenance provider.