More kids drowned in pools this year, CPSC releases new safety guidelines

New guidelines for pool safety emphasize swim lessons, CPR training and pool barriers.
Lifeguard watching swimming pool
Rear view of male lifeguard with emergency equipment in red uniform watching swimming pool.Getty Images

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By Kerry Breen

Summer is peak pool season, but children need to be supervised around pools any time of year.

At least 150 children under the age of 15 fatally drowned in pools and spas this year, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to a report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission — and increase of two more than the same time last summer.

"I am saddened by the increase in fatal child drownings this summer, as compared to last year," said Ann Marie Buerkle, the acting chairman of the CPSC, in a statement. "Drowning remains the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages one to four."

The amount of children aged 15 and under who drowned in pools and spas this summer was an increase from the same time frame last year. Getty Images

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The report was based on media reports compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation of drownings in children 15 and younger. It is possible that additional drownings occurred and at other times of year.

Of those reported in the summer, Texas had the highest rate of fatal child drownings, according to the CPSC, with 26 total (an increase from 21 drownings last year). Ohio had the second highest number with 11, which was a record-high for the state.

In contrast, Florida experienced a significant decrease in drowning rates — last year, there were 21 drownings in the state. However, there were still ten fatal child drownings in Florida this year.

Other high-ranking states include California, which also had ten drownings; Pennsylvania, which had eight; and Arizona and Georgia, each had seven fatal child drownings.

These are year-round pool and water safety tips for parents, especially those who have young children, as suggested by Pool Safety, a national public education campaign run by the CPSC.

To avoid drownings, the CPSC recommends making sure children can swim, that there are parents supervising, and that other safety features, like a fence and appropriate drain covers, are installed. Getty Images

In addition to teaching children how to swim, instructing them to stay away from pool drains, pipes and other openings is important.

Barriers around the pool should be sturdy. The CPSC recommended installing a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and ensuring that any pool or spa has proper drain covers that comply with federal safety standards.

Designate an adult "water watcher" to supervise children around water at all times.

"Parents and caregivers must remain vigilant around pools and spas, even after they close for the season," said Buerkle.

Learning how to swim and how to perform CPR on both children and adults are also important for anyone who plans to be with children around pools.