HOUSTON -- Child drownings in Texas reached 50 this week with the death of at least seven kids, putting the state on pace for a new annual record before summer has officially even started.
Texas set a record last year with 82 drownings, the highest since the state began keeping track in 2005. The average number of drownings each year is 70.
Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said the agency is very concerned with the approach of summer -- which officially begins Sunday. The agency said many recent victims didn't appear to be adequately supervised, including an 18-month-old in Texas City who drowned Thursday in his family's swimming pool while his mother and several teenagers were inside the home.
"Children are naturally attracted to water," Crimmins told the Houston Chronicle. "Given the heat and time of year more children are around water."
Drowning deaths this year have typically occurred outdoors, in swimming pools, bayous, and ponds, Austin television station KXAN reported. Others have occurred in a bathtub and a hot tub.
In the Texas City drowning, the toddler had apparently slipped outside and climbed a ladder into the family's 4-foot-deep pool. Authorities said no one noticed the boy was missing for about 10 minutes.
Two teenage brothers drowned this week at a pool in Laredo, and another 18-month-old toddler in Waxahachie drowned after being left unattended at a pool. Two 2-year-olds in Texas also drowned in their family's backyard pools this week.
"Each of these tragedies could have been prevented, simply by not leaving children alone, either in water or near water," said Sasha Rasco, DFPS assistant commissioner for child care licensing.
According to state figures, there were 66 children who drowned in 2005, 70 in 2006 and 63 in 2007.