A day at a pool or beach should never end in an emergency room. Unfortunately, that happens far too often.

The Grim Statistics

Most people are surprised to hear that drowning is second only to car crashes as the leading cause of unintentional death and injury among children ages 1 to 14 years old. Each year approximately 830 children die as a result of unintentional drowning. That is nearly 3 child deaths each and every day of the year. Injury numbers are no better. Each year approximately 3,600 non-fatal injuries occur to children 14 years old and under due to near-drowning incidents. Home swimming pools and spas are the most common site for drowning. Open bodies of water like lakes, rivers and streams are where most of the other drowning happens.

The Lesser-Known Risks

The dangers in and around pools go beyond the obvious—traditional forms of drowning.  Swimmers, especially children, can be entrapped by pool and spa drains. Drains that are improperly maintained, have faulty covers or have missing covers altogether are very dangerous. Hair, jewelry or limbs can be entangled in the drain or body parts can be suctioned to it. The force of suction for a pool or spa drain system–hundreds of pounds per square inch–is so powerful that even the strongest adults can’t free the victim. Even good swimmers can drown or suffer catastrophic injuries. The statistics are alarming. Over the past 15 years there have been 94 reports of pool and spa entrapment incidents resulting in 12 deaths. Each of these incidents and deaths had one thing is common. When asked, swimmers, parents, children and even pool and spa owners and operators had no idea that an entrapment was even possible. Experts call this a “hidden hazard”.

Prevention Saves Lives

Fortunately, traditional forms of drowning and entrapments, entanglements and eviscerations are completely preventable. Drowning and entrapments can be prevented by using what is commonly referred to as “layers of protection”­ ­– safety devices and behaviors that are used together to prevent injuries and deaths from happening. Children should be actively supervised when they are in and around water. Pools and spas of all kinds should be completely surrounded by an isolation fence with a self-locking gate. Pools and spas should be built and maintained so as to prevent entrapments, entanglements and eviscerations from happening in the first place. Safety drain covers and back up safety devices like a safety vacuum release system should be installed. Children should be taught how to swim and adults should be trained in CPR. Doors alarms, pool alarms and automatic pool and spa covers add an extra layer of safety. These efforts, combined with others, quite simply, saves children’s lives and prevents injuries.

Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation—Safety through Prevention

In 2007, six-year old Abbey Taylor died as a result of injuries received because of an improperly maintained drain in a public wading pool. Abbey sat down on a drain and was eviscerated by the strong drain suction. She endured nine months of hospitalizations and surgeries including several organ transplants. Abbey’s hope was that no child would ever have to suffer as she did as the result of a foreseeable and preventable entrapment or drowning.

In her name and with her HOPE in mind, Abbey’s Hope Charitable Foundation was formed.  Abbey’s Hope works tirelessly and passionately to raise awareness, educate parents and children about how to safe guard children in and around pools, spas and open bodies of water and advocates for reasonable and practical laws that help make pools, spas and other swimming venues as safe as possible.

The Dragonfly Story

Excerpted from the eulogy at Abbey Taylor's Celebration of Life Service

Below the surface of a quiet pond lived a colony of water bugs. They were happy, living far from the sun. But they noticed that occasionally, a member of their colony would climb up a lily stalk and disappear from sight, never to return. Where do you suppose she went? wondered a water bug.

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Pool Safety Tips

  • Use the Water Watchdog System to make sure children are always closely supervised in the pool area.

  • Remind kids to stay away from pool and hot tub drains.

  • Never dive into water less than 9 feet deep.

  • Keep gates to the pool area latched.

More water safety tips