22 out of 39 Drownings fatal in Orange County 2018; Are Kids in Lifejackets Really Safe?

Drowning preventionParents Shouldn’t Remove Lifejackets After Kids Get Out of Water

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (July 30, 2018) — A new trend is taking place at California swimming pools, beaches and water parks and it’s one of many preventable causes of drowning, according to Orange County Fire Authority Captain Steve Concialdi.

Parents of young children are putting life jackets on them while they are swimming, but when the child gets out of the swimming pool or water to go to the bathroom or to eat, they wander back into the pool unseen before they put it back on.

“It’s one of the worst calls a firefighter or paramedic can go on,” he said. “The child looks normal, but they breathed in so much water and now it’s a major injury and they are going to intensive care. Often they don’t wake up because they have suffered irreversible brain damage.”

Most of the young children who died were found in backyard swimming pools. Levi Hardy, 7, was one of them. The child died in a residential pool in La Habra just last month. He was visiting a friend’s home with his family and after coming out of the water, his life jacket was removed and then wandered back to the pool without it. He is one of five children under age 5 who have died in OC drownings, 11 other drowning victims survived.

The year-round warm weather in Southern California makes drowning a problem throughout the year, Concialdi said.  One thing many people don’t realize is that most fatal drownings involve adults. Roughly half of the drownings in OC were people over 50 years old including 52-year-old Brian Riggs, of Laguna Beach who died in July this year at 1,000 Steps Beach. He is one of 11 fatal drownings in OC this year, only one person survived out of 12 reported drownings in this age group.

Concialdi said emergency personnel respond to drownings all year long in Orange County due to the many pools, the great weather and the beaches. Some 22 out of 39 drownings through July 24th this  year have been fatal, according to statistics compiled by the Orange County Fire Authority. Sixteen of those drownings were in backyard swimming pools and 12 were in community pools and spas.  Nine were in the ocean and 2 were in bathtubs.

“Kids have no fear. They just want to jump in the water and play,” he said, adding that it takes just seconds for a child to inhale water into their lungs.

Olympic skier Bode Miller lost his 19-month-old daughter Emmy Miller  in June. The toddler’s mother was visiting a friend’s Coto de Cazo home when the child found her way into an un-gated, backyard swimming pool. The child’s family is hoping to raise awareness about drownings to prevent future tragedies and they established a Go Fund Me page to set up a foundation to honor their daughter.

Indeed, drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths for children 4-years-old and younger in California and in the United States. In fact, every day in the United States, 10 people die due to accidental drowning, according Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While children who drown lose their life, a near-drowning can leave a child with life-long disabilities and the child may never be the same, according to The Department of Developmental Services (DDS).

Fortunately, drowning is preventable if parents take steps to ensure their child is safe near the water. Make sure there is someone who knows CPR, have someone seated next to the water to ensure no one drowns, install barriers around swimming pools and never take off life jackets or swimming vests near the water.

OCFA’s Drowning Prevention PSA – English from Orange County Fire Authority on Vimeo.

Orange County Fire Authority Task  Force on Drowning Prevention Statistics

98 drowning incidents 42 fatalities (2017)

118 drowning incidents and 50 fatalities (2015)

86 drowning incidents and 43 fatalities (2014)

OC Drownings Since 2009; Irvine Tops List

  1. (101) Irvine
  2. (80) Huntington Beach
  3. (46) Newport Beach
  4. (46) Unincorporated Orange County
  5. (35) Anaheim
  6. (31) Tustin
  7. (29) Mission Viejo
  8. (25) San Clemente
  9. (25) Other
  10. (23) Laguna Beach
  11. (22) Buena Park
  12. (21) Lake Forest
  13. (19) Orange





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