The prevention of child drowning: the causal factors and social determinants impacting fatalities in portable pools

Peden, Amy E., Franklin, Richard C., and Pearn, John H. (2020) The prevention of child drowning: the causal factors and social determinants impacting fatalities in portable pools. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 31 (2). pp. 184-191.

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Issue addressed: There is a scarcity of research into portable pool drowning and its prevention. This total population study examines fatal drowning among children under five in portable pools in Australia.

Methods: All child drowning deaths in portable pools for the period 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2018 were identified. A portable pool was defined as any structure used for swimming and wading which, when emptied, can be moved.

Results: Twenty-three children (aged 0-17 years) drowned in portable pools. The drowning rate for children less than 5 years of age was 0.09 per 100 000 population. The peak age of death was 12-23 months (RR = 2.99; CI: 1.09-8.23), with the majority (n = 20 deaths) aged 16-31 months. Ninety per cent followed a fall into water. None were supervised. Children commonly resided in areas classified as socially and economically disadvantaged (85%; n = 17). Drowning rates in very remote areas were 15 times greater (RR = 15.41; CI: 0.03-7579.65) than city children. Eleven (55%) drowning deaths occurred in pools with a depth >300 mm, of which 10 (91%) were known to be unfenced.

Conclusions: Social determinants impact child drowning in portables pools, which can occur quickly and in just 150 mm of water. Active supervision and a regulation-compliant barrier are effective prevention stratagems, factors which were absent from the deaths in this study. So what?: Portable pool drowning disproportionately impacts those aged 16-31 months who reside in very remote areas and areas classified as having high socio-economic disadvantage. Education for these groups on fencing and supervision of children must be provided.

Item ID: 62017
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2201-1617
Keywords: children, epidemiology, injury, social determinants, socially disadvantaged
Copyright Information: © 2019 Australian Health Promotion Association
Funders: Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2020 02:08
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420603 Health promotion @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920409 Injury Control @ 100%
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