Articles Posted in Accidental Drownings

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We were recently reminded of this needless tragedy when two twin toddlers drowned in their apartment complex swimming pool; the result of a broken latch on the pool gate.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day, about ten people die from accidental drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States. Florida’s Heath Department reports that the state loses more children under age five to accidental drowning than any other state. Sadly that means enough children to fill three to four preschool classrooms – they never live to see their fifth birthday.

Many accidents happen in backyard swimming pools, but drownings can also occur in apartment complex pools, condominium association pool, public pools, hotels, resorts, water parks, campgrounds, and summer camps. It is the responsibility of the property owner (pool, hot tub or spa owner) to take reasonable precautions to make sure that his or her swimming pool is safe for users, or anyone else on the property, including trespassers.

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Florida cities, including Panama City, Daytona Beach, Clearwater Beach, St. Pete Beach, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, South Beach – Miami, and Key West, are major destinations for spring breakers and tourists looking for warm sunshine and fun.

Whether by car or by air, hundreds of thousands of people flock to Florida each year to visit its miles of white sandy beaches, theme parks, restaurants, and bars. Some schools and colleges start spring break as early as the last week in February, and it runs through the end of March. According to TripSmarter.com, the two busiest weeks are March 10-17 and March 17-21.

Some common spring break dangers include:

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Miami, Florida – Drowning is the number one cause of death among children in Miami-Dade County. With Summer approaching, more children will be in or near swimming pools, at beaches, water parks and lakes. This increased exposure to water coincides with an increase in the number of drownings. For this reason, it is extremely important that children are taught about water safety.

The Miami-Dade Fire Department has responded to 199 drownings since January 2007. Most of those involved children under 16 years old and 32% involved children under 5 years old. In Miami, most drowning incidents occur between 11:00am and 6:00pm peaking between 3:00pm and 4:00pm. The majority of Miami drownings and near drownings occur in the Summer months from May through August. MDFR has already responded to 11 drowning incidents just since January of 2009.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has prepared the following list of Summer Safety Tips to help keep our children safe:

• Always think of the ocean, lakes and your pool as dangerous places.
• Always directly supervise children when they are in a pool or around any body of water. Young children can drown in just a few inches of standing water. Bathtubs and large buckets also pose a threat. Most childhood drownings occur without an adult immediately present.
• Keep a phone at poolside so you don’t have to leave the kids to answer the phone and so you can call 9-1-1 immediately in case of an emergency.
• Never assume that swimming lessons or flotation devices can completely protect a child from drowning. Don’t have a false sense of security!
• Install alarms on all doors that lead into a pool area so you will know if a door to the pool has been opened.
• Secure long hair to the head, braid it, or cover it with a cap. Long hair can get suctioned into defective pool drains and vacuum lines.
• Make sure that all family members learn how to swim and what to do if they see someone in trouble in the water.
• Have your family members learn CPR. Drowning victims have a better chance of surviving if they get assistance right away.
• Know and comply with the Florida and Miami-Dade County statutes for pool fencing and pool safety. Pool fencing has been proven to save the lives of many children.
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KEY LARGO — Joanne Page, 51 from North Carolina died Thursday after diving at French Reef, about 4 ½ miles off Key Largo in the Atlantic Ocean.

She was pronounced dead on the scene.

She had been diving with her boyfriend, Eugene Jackson, also from North Carolina on the commercial dive boat, Sea Star.

According to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission officers, the couple completed the first of two dives without incident. The problems began when they tried to swim back to the boat against a strong current after they surfaced from their second dive approximately 100 yards from the dive boat.

After battling the current and waves for about 30 minutes, Jackson looked back and saw that his girl friend had fallen behind and her head was underwater.

Crew members aboard the dive boat told investigators they could not see the two divers struggling in the water. In fact, they didn’t even realize that Page and Jackson were missing until all the other divers were safely on board the boat.

The Coast Guard and FWC were called to help search for the missing divers who were eventually found by FWC officers. Jackson was alive but struggling to perform mouth to mouth. Page was taken to shore and pronounced dead.
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Tampa, Florida – A Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer filed a lawsuit against University Community Hospital in Carrollwood for malpractice last month. The circumstances surrounding this case are anything but typical.

Robin Lumley, childless arrived at the hospital’s emergency room 2 1/2 years ago complaining of terrible pain in her abdomen.

ER nurses documented her complaints and a doctor ordered tests. Lumley asked to use the restroom and the hospital staff let her go.

A short time later, the hospital’s medical staff found that she had delivered a baby girl into the toilet.

The lawsuit alleges that Lumley, 46, didn’t know she was pregnant.

Lumley’s lawyer, however, claims the medical staff should have. Because they failed to recognize obvious signs and symptoms of labor, he says, Lumley’s baby nearly drowned.

The lawyer sued the hospital contending that baby Brianna Rose Lumley went into respiratory arrest which resulted in hypoxic brain damage due to the near drowning and sub-standard medical treatment.

According to the lawyer, the law suit was filed on the child’s behalf, not the mother’s. If it is successful, Robin Lumley won’t get a dime. All of the money recovered in the Florida medical malpractice case would be allocated to pay for the baby’s medical care.

The hospital refused to comment on the pending litigation.

According to caregivers, baby Brianna is just starting to speak and while she has had physical therapy to strengthen her limbs, she will likely face more physical and cognitive challenges.

The lawsuit also alleges that a doctor ordered a pregnancy test, but that test was never performed.

While near drowning incidents rarely occur in a hospital, the consequences are almost always tragic. Hypoxic brain damage – caused by partial deprivation of oxygen to the brain, and anoxic brain damage – caused by total deprivation of oxygen to the brain, are common problems following a near drowning. This type of brain injury is also commonly the result of malpractice. See my earlier post “Miami, Florida – Brain Damage Due To Cerebral Anoxia / Hypoxia Can Result From Medical Malpractice“.

Although this particular occurrence may be unusual in the hospital setting, medical malpractice is not. Unfortunately, many families suffer as a result of Florida medical malpractice.
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Florida — Accidental drownings pose the single biggest threat to young children in Florida. Parents are urged to keep their children in sight at all times around water this summer. Authorities say that losing sight of your children for even a moment around water could result in disaster.

These warnings come in the wake of two drownings in residential pools in Manatee County.
In one case, a mother found her 3-year-old boy at the bottom of their backyard pool. Another discovered her 11-month-old girl floating in a pool.

According to Florida’s Department of Health, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1 to 14 in the state and the leading cause of death in children ages 1 – 4.

While Florida leads the nation in child drowning deaths, in 2006, thirty-eight drowning deaths were reported in Miami-Dade County alone. Those statistics only reflect drowning deaths. Many more people, usually children, suffer catastrophic injuries such as cerebral anoxia or hypoxia (brain damage) each year as a result of near drowning incidents.

Many people have also suffered crippling spinal cord injuries from diving into pools, lakes or canals with inadequate warnings or which were not adequately maintained.

Accidental drownings may occur in lakes, canals, oceans, swimming pools, hot tubs / spas and even in bath tubs. Many drownings occur because of defective pool pumps or drains which can result in suction entrapment or because of poorly maintained fences or gates.

The phrase “suction entrapment” refers to the situation where a bather, usually a child, becomes stuck to a pool drain and held under water by the increased suction that is created when a drain is blocked by the bather’s body, hair or clothing. The force of that suction is often strong enough to hold an adult under water; however, it is usually children who fall victim to suction entrapment. Spa and hot tub drains pose the same risk. Suction entrapment incidents are generally caused by defective pool pumps, aging, broken, loose or missing drain covers and poorly designed pools.

There are several safety tips that, if followed can help prevent accidental drownings. They include:

1). Pool fences – Four-sided isolation fencing, at least five feet high with self-closing and self-latching gates, should be installed around home pools and spas. Fencing should completely surround swimming pools or spas and prevent direct access from a house or yard.

2). Never leave a child unsupervised in or around any body of water, even for a moment.

3). Enroll children in swimming lessons taught by a certified instructor, but don’t assume swimming lessons make your child “drown proof.”

4). Never dive into water less than nine feet deep.

5). Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (“PFD”) or life jacket when boating, near open bodies of water or when participating in any water sports. Air-filled swimming aids, such as “water wings,” are not considered safety devices and are not substitutes for PFDs.

6). Make use of pool alarms which sound an alert when someone enters the water.
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Miami, Florida – The number of child drownings and near drownings in South Florida increases dramatically each year during the Summer. Now that school is almost out, more kids will spend a greater amount of time in and around swimming pools. That makes summer vacation one of the most dangerous times for children.

South Florida has always had one of the highest child drownings rates in the country. ”It’s the No. 1 killer of young kids in South Florida,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Eddy Ballester, speaking about accidental drownings. “We have that dubious distinction of suffering more tragedies than anywhere else in the country.”

Child drownings, however, can be prevented. Most child drownings occur in backyard swimming pools. And most of those accidents can be avoided by following a few important safety tips including:

• Teach kids how to swim or at least survive in the water.

• Use pool fences, pool alarms, self-closing and self-latching gates and alarms on doors to make sure toddlers don’t get into the pool when you aren’t watching.

• Don’t let children play near a pool without adult supervision.

• Parents should tell their kids to take breaks every so often and when they get swimming lessons, they need to practice.

”Just like a designated driver, you need to have a designated pool watcher,” Ballester said.
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