Press Release, May 23, 2003:European Countries combine efforts to reduce 2nd leading cause of injury deaths to children ECOSA launches European Campaign for Child Drowning Prevention


ECOSA's European Child Safety Alliance, represented by 20 countries now launches a European-wide water safety and drowning prevention campaign, in partnership with Johnson and Johnson Europe.

Drowning and near drowning injuries are major causes of childhood death and disability in Europe. Drowning is the second leading cause of injury death for children in Europe. More than 70% of the victims are boys and the most vulnerable are children 1 to 4 years of age. Joanne Vincenten, Director of the European Child Safety Alliance stated that "in most countries children are especially at risk for fatal drowning: five times more than the average population. In countries that have reduced significantly the number of drowning incidences in the past decades such as the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands, drowning in early childhood (1-4 years of age) still remains an important problem. Most of these incidents occur at home (in the bath) or within a range of 100 meters, most often by drowning in a garden pond or surface water in the immediate home environment".

Young children have specific risks of drowning. Childhood drowning occurs usually in bathtubs (0-2 years), garden ponds (1-3 years), open water in the community (2-6 years), swimming pools (6+ years), and at the seaside, beaches and lakes (8+ years).

Drowning is an issue for children in Europe. Drowning deaths for children in the EU are the highest for those living in Finland, Austria and the Netherlands. In fact drowning rates in these countries are more than 3 times that of the United Kingdom. For central and eastern European countries drowning is a very large concern, with Latvia, Romania, Lithuania, and Estonia all having childhood drowning rates that are 10 times that of the EU average.

Recent investigations in the UK show that more children drown while abroad than at home. Child safety organisations across Europe are concerned about the number of children drowning while on vacation, therefore joint European water safety awareness will provide consistent information to Europeans whether they are at home or abroad.

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