Eight children brought to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center for fatal and nonfatal drownings

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Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4

Santa Clara County, CA. – On Saturday, June 23, three young children in Santa Clara County were brought to the Emergency Department at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center from drowning/near drowning incidents. Tragically, one of the children died, one was discharged and the other remains in the hospital in critical condition.  
From May 10 to June 9, another five children were brought to the hospital for drowning incidents. Sadly, one of these children also died, the others were cared for and released. These eight children ranged in age from 18 months to 11 years old, with five of them being under the age of four. Because of HIPAA privacy regulations, no other information about these patients will be released. 
As the weather warms up and more children are in and around water, it is important that adults do all that they can to reduce fatal and nonfatal drownings. Nationwide, from Memorial Day through Labor Day last year, at least 163 children younger than age 15 fatally drowned in swimming pools or spas.*  Of the 163 reports, 112 of the victims - nearly 70 percent - were children younger than age five. Parents, families, caregivers, and other adults need to be aware of the risks and what steps to take to help reduce these preventable deaths and injuries.
The Pool Safely campaign, a national public education campaign run by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, provides information on the simple steps that parents, caregivers, and pool owners should take to make sure that children and adults stay safe in and around pools and spas. Prevention begins with these layers of protection:

  • Install a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas.
  • Designate an adult Water Watcher to supervise children at all times around the water.
  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • Teach children to stay away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
  • Ensure any pool or spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. If you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safer drain covers.

Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates, and most often these children drowned in home swimming pools. More than 50 percent of drowning victims treated in emergency departments need hospitalization or transfer for further care. These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning.

Media Availability

  • Santa Clara Valley Medical Center will hold a media availability today, June 28 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. 
  • Interviews will take place in the walkway near the entrance to the Emergency Department.
  • Dr. Nicole Baier, head of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and Myrna Heredia, RN will be available for interviews. 
  • If you are planning to attend, call Joy Alexiou at 408-885-4164.

Factors for drowning include not knowing how to swim, lack of barriers to prevent access to water, lack of close supervision while swimming, and failure to wear life jackets. For more information go to the CDC website cdc.gov/features/healthyswimming , Pool Safely at www.poolsafely.gov   or to the Public Health Department Quick Facts about drowning sccgov.org/sites/phd/hi/hd/Pages/fact-sheets.aspx .

* Data from media reports compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation .
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