STAFFORD TOWNSHIP — The drowning death of a 2-year-old child in a pool Wednesday prompted experts and authorities to remind parents and guardians of the need to be vigilant in their supervision of children around swimming pools.
The toddler, whom authorities did not identify, was staying at a home on Buccaneer Avenue in the Ocean Acres section of the township. Police said they believe the girl was watching television at the rear of the home when her grandmother went to check on her and saw a sliding screen door was open.
The grandmother looked outside and saw the child floating at the deep end of the pool, said Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Al Della Fave.
Stafford Township police responded to the home at 4:22 p.m. Wednesday after receiving a 911 call reporting that a child was submerged in the backyard pool, Della Fave said.
When police arrived they found the victim's uncle performing CPR on the girl inside the front door of the residence. The child was transported to Southern Ocean Medical Center and pronounced dead at 4:49 p.m., Della Fave said.
Residents of the Buccaneer Avenue home declined to comment.
“There are several layers to making a pool safe, but the first and most important layer is constant adult supervision. Parents and guardians have to supervise children all the time around a pool,” Grepps said.
The other layers are the addition of safety mechanisms such as fencing, alarms, pool safety covers, gate locks and infrared detectors, Grepps said.
The addition of a locking fence around the actual pool reduces the risk of a child drowning by 83 percent, Grepps said.
Ryan Inverso, general manager of At Home Recreation in Stafford Township, said some safety options to add to pool areas are more affordable.
A door alarm that sounds when the door is opened near a pool costs about $40, Inverso said.
Locking gates, fences and ladders for above-ground pools are just as important for owners to add as those at in-ground pools, Inverso said.
“Over the last 10 years, people have been spending more money and coming in with their families to add safety features to their pool. But nothing that we sell replaces a vigilant parent or guardian,” he said.
The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals and the pool industry also promote swimming lessons for children for added safety, Grepps said.
Data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that children ages 1 to 4 are less likely to drown if they have received swimming lessons.
Even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant supervision when they are in the water are still important, warns the CDC.
“This time of year it's so important that people remember the danger that an open pool can present to children that can't swim and it only takes a matter of minutes,” Della Fave said.
Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2009, among children in this age group who died from an unintentional injury, more than 30 percent died from drowning, CDC statistics show. CDC reports that among children ages 1 to 4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools and drowning is responsible for more deaths among children 1-4 than any other cause except birth defects.
The investigation into the child’s death continues and identities are not being released at this time, Della Fave said.
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