Preventing child drownings: How to plan for the unexpected

In some of the nation's sunbelt, drowning has been the leading cause of accidental death in the home of children under 5 years old. The information below can help parents and caregivers provide young children with the protection they deserve.

Each year, nationwide, more than 300 children under 5 years old drown in residential swimming pools, usually a pool owned by their family. In addition, more than 2,000 children in that age group are treated in hospital emergency rooms for submersion injures.

Medical costs for submersion victims during the initial hospitalization alone can be quite high. Costs can range from an estimated $2,000 for a victim who recovers fully to $80,000 for a victim with severe brain damage. Some severely brain damaged victims have initial hospital stays in excess of 120 days and expenses in excess of $150,000.

Many communities have enacted safety regulations governing residential swimming pools -- inground and aboveground. It's up to parents to comply with these regulations. Apart from these laws, parents who own pools, can take their own precautions to reduce the chances of their youngsters accessing the family pool or spa without adult supervision.

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