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Pet Doors Pose Serious Hazard To Children | Port Orange Child Injury Attorney

Pet Doors Pose Serious Hazard To Children

So far this year there have been 37 drownings and 38 near-drowning incidents reported by the media across America, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

What’s not always reported in child drowning cases, is if the child gained access to the pool through a pet door in the home. Even the smallest of pet doors can pose a potential hazard to small children by providing access to the outside.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children 1-4 years, the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children 1-14 years, and is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for all ages in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


According to Safety Research and Strategies, Inc., more than 100 children have died or been seriously injured in the last decade after squeezing through tiny pet doors and getting into swimming pools or other dangerous places. In addition to drowning, children who are unsupervised may also become lost or venture out into busy roadways.

While a handful of child injury researchers are aware of the link between pet doors and childhood injury and death, the SRS reports that even fewer parents are aware of the dangers posed by them.

The size of many pet door opening appears deceptively small. Parents may believe that their child is safely contained inside the home. But an average medium pet door with a typical opening of 8 x 11 inches is recommended by manufacturers for use with pets up to 40 pounds. A 95th percentile, three-year-old male child weighs only 38 pounds and can easily pass through this opening.

“The pet door access is part of the puzzle,” says Kristin Goffman, executive director for the National Drowning Prevention Alliance. “It’s a weakness in the layers of protection that has to be addressed. We find that in some cases, people have forgotten the pet door even existed. It was disregarded as a risk.”

According to a 2009 study by SRS, Florida is second with 22 deaths and injuries resulting from pet door incidents, following Arizona’s 29. California is third with 11.

“As the summer swimming season approaches, our message to parents and caregivers is simple: stay safe in and around pools and spas by practicing as many safety steps as possible. This includes staying close to children at all times and knowing water safety skills like CPR,” said Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in a press release.

Reporting the 75 drowning and near-drowning incidents, the CPSC has introduced the new “Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives” campaign. The PSAs introduce four families and their stories about the simple steps that save lives: door alarms, knowledge of CPR, fencing around pools and spas and safety drain covers in pools and spas. The radio PSAs promote the importance of swimming lessons as a simple step that saves lives.

“So many of the drowning and near-drowning incidents that happen every year are preventable and every drowning and near-drowning is a terrible tragedy.” Tenenbaum said..

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance offers these water safety tips:

  • Never leave a child unattended near water in a pool, tub, bucket or ocean. There is no substitute for adult supervision.
  • Designate a “Water Watcher” to maintain constant watch over children in the pool during gatherings.
  • The home should be isolated from the pool with a fence at least 60” tall, with a self-closing, self-latching gate. The gate should open away from the pool, and should never be propped open.
  • Doors and windows should be alarmed to alert adults when opened. Doors should be self-closing and self-latching.
  • Learn CPR and rescue breathing.
  • Keep a life-saving ring, shepherd’s hook and CPR instructions mounted at poolside.
  • Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
  • Never leave water in buckets or wading pools.
  • If a child is missing, always check the pool first. Seconds count.
  • Remove toys from in and around the pool when not in use.
  • Don’t use floating chlorine dispensers that look like toys.
  • Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards, and emphasize the need for constant supervision.
  • Responsibilities of pool ownership include ensuring children in the home learn to swim, and that adults know CPR.
  • Do not consider children “drownproof” because they’ve had swimming lessons.

For more on child safety issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach child injury attorney.



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