Objective: To describe a significant but poorly understood public health problem, the authors compiled data on swimming pool drownings and near-drownings requiring hospitalization for California children ages 1 to 4.
Methods: Data from death certificates were used to analyze swimming pool drownings, and hospital discharge data were used to analyze near-drownings.
Results: Among California preschoolers in 1993, pool immersion incidents were the leading cause of injury death and the eighth leading cause of injuries leading to hospitalization. Rates per 100,000 population were 3.2 for fatalities and 11.2 for nonfatal incidents, with a fatality-to-case ratio of 1:3.5. Total charges for initial hospital stays (excluding physicians' fees) were $5.2 million for 1227 hospital days.
Conclusions: Swimming pools remain a serious hazard for young children. Primary prevention continues to be an important public health goal. Public health officials should support the adoption of laws designed to protect children from drowning and near-drownings.