It can be a quiet killer: A small child wanders out of sight and falls into water — perhaps in a backyard swimming pool, a bathtub or a lake — and slips under the surface. Within minutes, he or she can be severely brain damaged or dead.
“Little kids don’t know what drowning is,” said Tim Szymanski, a member of the Southern Nevada Child Drowning Prevention Coalition. “They slide into water. They’re not going to splash, yell for help.”
Last year, Clark County’s drowning death rate for children 4 years old and younger fell to a new low of 2.05 per 100,000 residents in that age bracket, according to data from the Southern Nevada Health District. Even so, four children younger than 15 died from drowning in Clark County in 2013. Three of the victims were 4 years old or younger. Thirty-six other children 14 and under were rescued and survived after being found underwater last year, according to county data.
Drowning can occur in any body of water, big or small, but backyard swimming pools always pose a great risk. And Clark County certainly has its share — 105,482 pools at single-family homes, to be exact.
In many child-drowning cases, a toy in or around a pool enticed the victim to the area. Then the child fell into the water while trying to retrieve it, Szymanski said. The scenario highlights the need for all objects to be removed from a pool’s vicinity. With pool season here, authorities hope residents remain vigilant when it comes to water safety, so this year’s drowning rate can drop even lower.
“Drownings occur mostly during the warm weather months, but they happen during all of the months here,” Szymanski said.