Aug 24, 2010 | Newsroom

Of all children 1-4 years old who died, 26% died from drowning

IRVINE, CA –The Children & Families Commission of Orange County has teamed up with former Olympian and world record swimmer Janet Evans to promote water safety.

Beginning this summer, the Commission will air a radio public service announcement (PSA) on Southern California radio stations with Janet Evans serving as spokesperson.

“As a gold medal Olympic swimmer and world record holder, I spent much of my life in the water,” said Janet Evans. “Now as a mother, I take every precaution to ensure my kids are water safe.”

The PSA highlights the fact that drowning is the leading cause of death among California children between the ages of one and four. According to Centers for Disease Control, in 2004, 26% of deaths of children 1-4 years old resulted from drowning. These deaths are avoidable if proper precautions were taken – as are incidents of near drowning, which can result in life-altering injuries such as brain damage.

The key to prevention is:

Supervision- never leave your child alone in or near water- be at arm’s length.

Deterrence – unwanted access to the pool with isolation fencing and a self-latching, self-closing gate.

Preparation – know how to swim, know child CPR, and have rescue equipment and phone at poolside.

“Drowning is the leading cause of death for children under the age of five in Orange County,” said Mike Ruane, Executive Director for the Children & Families Commission of Orange County. “The Orange County Fire Department notes that of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning. These deaths are avoidable and that is why the Commission is calling upon parents to take certain steps to protect children by becoming water wise.”

“Parents need to provide layers of protection,” said Phyllis Agran, MD, from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Fences isolating the pool from the house are critical along with adult supervision, a phone and rescue equipment poolside, and water survival skills will help prevent drowning.

The Commission is focusing on water safety since drowning is the leading cause of death in young children in Orange County. It only takes a few minutes for a tragedy to occur — 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less. In addition, it is estimated that for each drowning death, there are 1 to 4 near drowning incidents serious enough to result in hospitalization. Children who require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) have a poor prognosis, with at least half of survivors suffering long-term brain damage and needing care for the rest of their lives.

About Children & Families Commission of Orange County: The Children & Families Commission of Orange County was founded in February 2000, and oversees the allocation of funds from Proposition 10, which added a 50-cent tax on tobacco products sold in California. Funds help pay for health care, education and child development programs for children from the prenatal stage to age five and their families. The Commission’s goal is to ensure all children are healthy and ready to learn when they enter school. For information, please visit

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