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1 in 20 Accidental Child Deaths in Philadelphia Caused by Drowning

Posted June 27, 2016 | Drowning Accidents

Every summer, millions of children cool down in swimming pools, lakes, oceans, and water parks.  But while swimming is a fun way to beat the heat and relax with friends, it can also be an extremely dangerous activity – especially here in Pennsylvania.  Recent data reveals that Pennsylvania has one of the highest drowning rates in the United States, and in Philadelphia, drowning is responsible for one in 20 unintentional child deaths.  As you and your family gear up for summer, make sure to take extra precautions to keep your children safe.  If the unthinkable happens and one of your children is seriously injured while swimming, turn to Philadelphia premises liability lawyer, Brent Wieand, for aggressive legal representation.

Fatal Swimming Accident Statistics: PA Ranks #4 in U.S. for Drowning

philadelphia medical malpractice attorney

Sadly, drowning deaths are far more common than most people realize.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 3,530 people were killed in unintentional drowning accidents from 2005 to 2014, which is about 10 drowning deaths every day.  That figure excludes drowning deaths related to boating accidents, which cause an additional 330 deaths annually – nearly one per day.

Most of the victims – about one in five – are children aged 13 or younger.  In particular, children aged one to four are at greatest risk for drowning, which accounts for about a third of unintentional injury-related deaths in that age group nationwide.  

According to a 2013 report published by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, which was based on data compiled from 2009 to 2010, drowning is responsible for about 5% of Philadelphia child deaths caused by unintentional injuries, killing six Philadelphia children during that time period.  Half took place in natural bodies of water, while the remaining three occurred in home settings.  Yet the hazards aren’t always the obvious culprits like bathtubs or swimming pools: in one case, a child was accidentally killed after rolling out of bed and falling into a bucket on the floor.

Drowning is clearly a serious safety issue across the United States, but the problem is particularly prevalent in Pennsylvania, which, according to an NBC Philadelphia report, ranks number four in the nation for drowning deaths.  A separate report on drowning fatalities issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health revealed that, statewide, drowning and submersion injuries claimed 62 lives from 2009 to 2011, accounting for nearly 8% of all injury deaths among children aged one to 17.  The majority of these deaths (29) occurred in the one to four age group, reflecting the CDC’s warning that this is the most vulnerable demographic.  

How to Tell if Someone is Drowning

baby in water

Frighteningly, the Pennsylvania DOH report found that two thirds of the victims were under supervision at the time of drowning.  While absent lifeguards and negligent supervision are factors in many drownings, many tragedies occur under the watchful eye of an adult.  

The problem is that drowning seldom looks the way it’s portrayed in movies and TV shows, which can cause even the most vigilant parents and babysitters to miss the victim’s signs of distress.  While fictional portrayals tend to depict victims as thrashing, screaming, and splashing, the real signs of drowning are often quiet and subtle.  The “Instinctive Drowning Response” – the way a person behaves when they are in the process of drowning – is characterized by:

  • A lack of cries for help.  A person who is struggling to breathe cannot call for assistance.
  • Bobbing up and down.  A drowning person’s mouth will bob above and below the surface the water, reappearing for a few seconds before becoming submerged again.
  • Involuntary arm movements.  A drowning victim also cannot flag down a lifeguard, because control over arm movements is lost.  They may look like they are trying to press against the surface of the water, or trying to climb a structure that isn’t there.
  • Vertical body positioning.  The person will remain upright in the water without kicking to keep themselves afloat.

Was Your Child Hurt While Swimming? Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer

Pool owners such as spas and hotels are responsible for taking thorough safety precautions to minimize the risk of drowning accidents, such as performing regular pool maintenance and posting prominent lifeguard notices.  When a lifeguard, pool owner, or maintenance worker is negligent, or when a pool accessory such as a diving board or suction vent is defective, the risk of swimmers drowning or suffering serious submersion injuries increases dramatically.  Multiple parties could be liable for the injury or wrongful death of a child due to drowning caused by negligence in Pennsylvania.

If you or your child suffered a swimming pool injury in Philadelphia, such a head injury from a diving accident or lacerations caused by broken glass, personal injury attorney Brent Wieand may be able to help your family recover compensation.  To arrange a free and confidential legal consultation with Brent, call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (800) 481-5206.  Brent handles submersion injuries, accidental drowning deaths, poolside slip and fall accidents, and other types of swimming injuries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.  The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*