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Drowning is the Leading Cause of
Accidental Death of Preschoolers

By Bernice Applegate, Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO DESK - It's the great California weather that leads children outdoors. The California lifestyle is really year-round. At some California beaches you'll see surfing in January. But, its the summer months that are the most potentially dangerous time of year for California's little children.

More playtime with less supervision, experts say. 'Clearly school is out and the days are longer. There's more recreational time and more chance for injury,' says Dr. Charlene Sanders, a pediatric trauma specialist at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, California.

According to Sanders, topping the list of accidental injuries treated at the hospital's emergency department are sports-related broken bones, head injuries, significant lacerations and scrapes - mostly due to a lack of safety gear.

Nearly as frequent are the injuries of children who are hit by cars while playing in or near the streets.

Sanders says 'We see several of these [injuries] a week. People driving home from work are not looking for kids dashing out between cars after lost balls and Frisbees. Children are out playing long after dinner time in the summer.'

And the National Safety Council, reports that more than half of all drownings nationwide happen during the summer months. In California, Arizona and Florida, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among preschoolers.

"It's more of a lapse of supervision rather than a lack of it," says Bob Collis, public service officer for the Los Angeles City Fire Department. "Parents look away, answer telephones, or think others are keeping an eye on the kids."

Experts are quick to point out that it can take only two inches of water for a toddler to drown. Nationwide, about 50 drowning deaths and 130 emergency-room visits per year are due to toddlers falling into buckets of water. Ice chests pose the same danger.

"At this age a child's head is the heaviest part of their body. If they fall into a bucket, they don't have the muscle strength to get themselves out," Sanders says.

Experts agree that proper supervision is the key to a safe summer for children. Here are other safety tips they insist upon:

In general:

Outdoor sports:

In the water:

In crowds:

On the road:

Note: American Academy of Pediatrics; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; Children's Hospital Los Angeles; National Safe Kids Campaign and the National Safety Council.


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