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Public Safety

Child Drownings Up In San Diego County

Chula Vista 4th graders take swimming lessons at Parkway Family Aquatic Center on May 26, 2011.
Susan Murphy
Chula Vista 4th graders take swimming lessons at Parkway Family Aquatic Center on May 26, 2011.

County officials today reminded parents and other adults to keep a close eye on children as summer draws to a close, because the number of accidental drownings is up over last year in San Diego County.

"It only takes a few minutes for an unfortunate drowning to occur,'' said Bill Horn, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. "Tragically, we've lost six children under age 2 to accidental drowning in San Diego County this year.''

Two died in a backyard pool, one in a jacuzzi, two in other backyard bodies of water and one in a bathtub, according to county figures.


There were four accidental drownings of children last year and nine in 2009.

"It's important for adults to maintain constant eye contact with children around water and be no farther than an arm's length away," Horn said.

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1-14, and for every fatal case, there are four near-drownings that end up with

patients in hospital emergency rooms, county officials said.

Sue Cox, director of trauma services at Rady Children's Hospital Trauma Services, said victims of near-drownings can suffer brain damage that results in long-term disabilities


"It's important to remember seconds count,'' Cox said. "The quicker the response time, the better chance a child has of an improved outcome of a near-drowning.''

Nick Macchione, director of the county Health and Human Services Agency, said most drowning young victims are out of their parents' sight for less than five minutes.

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