Whether in a swimming pool, a lake, or a bathtub at home, drowning accidents are much more frequent than one may imagine. Each day an average of ten people drown. In fact, New York personal injury attorneys frequently see clients who have lost loved ones; drowning accidents rank as the sixth most common cause of accidental death. The statistics for children are more chilling yet: drowning is the second most common fatal accident among children ages 1-4.
Children may be more prone to drowning because of their innate curiosity. They are too young to comprehend fully the hazards of running around pools or horse playing on boat docks. But they may even become victims in shallow water.
Indeed, drowning is often the cause of death for a victim of any age, but may result from another accident, say a fall that renders the victim unconscious. Not all accidents result in death, of course. More often than not victims survive. Near-drowning victims likely will need hospitalization. Injuries they suffer may include broken limbs, spinal damage, and even brain injury. Because the victim is left without air while underwater, the brain is particularly vulnerable to damage.
Types of Drowning Accidents
According to the National Association of Rescue Divers, drownings fall into two major categories. Wet drownings are those in which the lungs fill with water, thereby preventing oxygen and carbon dioxide from entering. Dry drownings, which are more common, occur when the larynx spasms, blocking air passages. The process occurs as follows: once the victim is submerged, water enters through the nose and mouth. The victim begins coughing and gasping, and usually swallows water. Soon after water enters the trachea the larynx reacts defensively, sealing up air passages. Ultimately, the victim falls unconscious from lack of oxygen, and the larynx relaxes, allowing water to fill the lungs.
Preventing Drowning Accidents
It is vital for victims to receive immediate treatment at the scene of the accident. CPR has saved thousands of lives. However, it is even more important to take measures that prevent drowning accidents in the first place. The following are recommended:
- For pools, make sure that a high fence surrounds the yard and that the gate is kept locked. Keep a safety hook in the vicinity of the pool, and never allow a child to enter the area unattended. In fact, it is a good rule to never allow anyone to swim alone.
- At lake sites, make sure children are wearing approved life jackets at all times. Keep them under close supervision.
- Teach children to swim. The Centers for Disease Control reports that formal swimming lessons can lessen the risk of children drowning by 88%.
- Take a CPR course. This is vital for all parents, even those who do not have a swimming pool. One never knows when a crisis will occur which requires resuscitation.
- Keep in mind that 10% of children under age 5 have experienced a situation in which there is a high risk of drowning.
In many instances drowning accidents occur because of the fault or negligence of another. A pool area may be left unlocked; a public pool may be unsupervised; a boat operator may drive dangerously close to swimmers. In such cases, if you are injured, you should seek the assistance of a New York personal injury attorney. You may be able to receive compensation for cost of medical care, loss of income, pain, and suffering, permanent injuries, etc.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York personal injury accident, the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Please contact us at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5486) for a free and comprehensive consultation. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.