The number one cause of accidental death for children 1-4 years of age according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention is DROWNING!!!! A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a childe age 4 and under. Being an Arizona resident with two small children under the age of 5 this statistic is not only real to me, but sends shivers down my spine!! Even though I live in the dessert, water is all around me. Almost every person I know has a pool or body of water that keeps them cool in the hot Arizona summer days. Even if you don’t live in AZ it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be scared of these statistics too. A small child can drown in a few centimeters of water at the bottom of a bucket or bath tub.
What Drowning Can Look Like
With July 4th just around the corner and summertime water activities in full gear I feel that is important for this hot topic not to go ignored! When people think of what drowning looks like, they think of someone splashing, waving, yelling or calling for help. All of these signs are what television prepares us for, but in actuality not always what happens! However, if you do see someone yelling and thrashing-they are experiencing aquatic distress, and will need to be rescued. Here is what Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., says in an article that was written in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine about what drowning can also look like:
- Head low in the water, mouth at water level
- Head tilted back with mouth open
- Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
- Eyes closed
- Hair over forehead or eyes
- Not using legs –Vertical
- Hyperventilating or gasping
- Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
- Trying to roll over on the back
- Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder
Drowning does not discriminate!!! You may think “I am to smart or educated to let my child drown.” In fact Safe Kids Coalition found that 58% of parents do not consider drowning a threat to their children!! Seriously, that statistic is so alarming!! I am not saying you need to place your child in some sort of safety bubble, but what I am trying to get across is that the first step in preventing a drowning is to take preventive measurers. Parents who aren’t worried about the threat of their child drowning may not take these measures, so if you were one of those parents I hope this blog wakes you up!! Below is a list of measures from the Joshua Collingsworth Foundation that can help you prevent drowning.
* The most important component of preventing drownings is constant supervision.
* Adults can offer non-swimming water activities.
* Empty buckets, pails, and bathtubs completely after each use.
* Never leave children alone around any water.
* Cover and lock the hot tub, spa, whirlpool or fence it in like a pool.
* Adults supervising children in the water need to be able to scan the supervised area within 10 seconds and reach a person in distress within 20 seconds.
* Think through an emergency action plan before it is needed.
* Preschool children can be enrolled in swim classes, but no amount of instruction makes a child “drown-proof.”
* Never leave a baby in the tub even for a second. Children drown with the seats and rings quickly and silently. Most siblings are not old enough to properly supervise a young child in this situation.
* Keep the toilet seat cover down. Consider putting a latch on the bathroom door high enough to be out of reach of an interested infant and toddler.
* Do not leave containers in the yard where they may collect water and attract a child.
* Learn CPR.
* Plan ahead. Before waterplay, think about what might call you away. The phone, needing a towel, front door bell, getting a Band-Aid.
* Turn on the answering machine or bring a cordless phone
* Bring all needed items, sunscreen, towels, first aid kit
* Tape a sign to the front door letting parents know you are out back with the children
* Even good planning can’t account for every situation. If you need to leave the water play area, EVEN FOR A FEW SECONDS, take the children with you.
* If you choose to use a pool with children, remind children of the rules each time you use the area.
“I need you to walk inside the pool area. Running isn’t safe in there.”
“Diving needs extra adults. I need you to jump or walk into the pool unless an adult is ready to watch you dive.”
“Even though there is lots of water in the pool, using it like a toilet can make people very sick. If you need to use the bathroom, can tell me right away.”
* Remember, diving into shallow water causes spinal injuries. Never allow diving in above ground pools, shallow water, or unknown areas.
* Because of diapers and dirty bottoms, fecal matter may be introduced into pools. Due to the huge health risks associated with human waste, it is better to use sprinklers, water tables, or hoses with young children. If you do allow swimming, toddlers should wear swim diapers that will contain feces and urine. [In June 1998, it is believed that a sick child with diarrhea at an Atlanta water park caused an E. coli outbreak. 26 people, 12 of whom were children, were contaminated and one child died.]
Pools, baths, and large bodies of water can be a dangerous place for children to be unsupervised at any time of the year, but now that summer is here and water activates are at a high PLEASE FOLLOW THE PRECAUTIONS LISTED ABOVE. I’ve also list some other great water safety resources below.
Safe Kids USA
NDPA National Drowning Prevention Alliance
Swim for Life Foundation
Are you one of the 58% of parents that don’t consider drowning a threat to your child?