This supplementary information is presented as submitted by the corresponding author. It has not been copy-edited by NTvG.
Investigate risk factors for childhood drowning in The Netherlands with the aim of improving prevention campaigns.
Prospective and partly retrospective.
Information was collected about childhood drowning accidents in The Netherlands in 2010 and 2011 using two methods. Paediatricians were asked to report information to the Dutch Paediatric Surveillance Unit (NSCK) concerning children admitted to hospital because of drowning. In addition, online-media were searched for information about child victims of drowning.
A total of 82 reports of child drowning were analysed (63 from the paediatricians’ survey and 19 additional reports from online-media). Twenty three children died as a result of drowning in the Netherlands in 2010 and 2011. Fifty four percent of the children with a drowning accident were younger than four years. Boys were victims in 71% of the cases. Half (51%) of the accidents happened because the parents or caregivers lost sight of the children. In 27% of cases the accident took place in or round the home. Twenty one children (26%) were victims of drowning in a public swimming pool and 5 of these children died.
No national register of drowning accidents with a non-fatal outcome is kept in the Netherlands. The national register notes only fatal drowning cases and the age classification does not include a classification of 0-18 years. It also does not register accidents of people who are not registered as inhabitants of the Netherlands and excludes important groups for this study such as asylum seekers or visitors. However when we compared our findings to the national register there seems to be a good comparison.
Better continuous supervision of young children could help prevent drowning. In the Netherlands there are large areas of open water which are also used for recreational purposes and are not fenced. Open water in proximity to the home should also be fenced off. Public swimming pools are popular places for leisure activity in the Netherlands and very few people have private swimming pools. Even though public swimming pools have a high level of surveillance and safety many accidents occur there. This may possibly be because parents and children feel safe and parental supervision is relaxed there. This study shows that continuous good surveillance is also essential in public swimming pools.