By Steve Cox
Prevent Child Drowning
Drowning has been the leading cause of accidental death in the home of children under five years old. The information below can help parents and caregivers provide young children with the protection they deserve.
Each year nationwide about 300 children under five years old drown in swimming pools, usually a pool owned by their family, In addition more than 2000 children in that age group are treated in hospital emergency rooms for submersion injuries.
Seventy-five percent of submerged victims studied were between one and three-years-old; sixty-five percent were boys. Toddlers, in particular, often do something unexpected because of their capabilities change daily. At the time of the incidents most victims were being supervised by one or both parents, forty-six percent of the victims were last seen in the house; twenty-three percent were last seen in the yard or on the porch or patio; and thirty-one percent were in or around the pool before the accident, in all, sixty-nine percent of the children were not expected to be at or in the pool, yet they were found in the water.
Submersion incidents involving children usually happen in familiar surroundings. Sixty-five percent of the incidents happened in a pool owned by the child’s family and thirty-three percent of the incidents happened in a pool owned by friends or relatives. Pool submersions involving children happen quickly. A child can drown in the time it takes to answer the phone. Seventy-seven percent of the victims had been missing for five minutes or less. Child drowning is a silent death, there is no splashing to alert anyone the child is in trouble.
Protection and Rules for the Pool
Barriers are not child proof, but they provide layers of protection for a child that strays from supervision. They should be a least 4 ft. tall, have gates that are self closing and latching, and should never be propped open.
Instruct babysitters about potential pool hazards to young children and about the use of protective devices, such as door alarms and latches. Emphasize the need for constant supervision.
Never leave a child unsupervised near a pool. During social gatherings at or near the pool, appoint a “designated watcher” to protect young children from pool accidents. Adults may take turns being the watcher, or if having a pool party, hire a lifeguard to help keep watch and respond to an emergency. When parents become preoccupied children are at risk.
If a child is missing, check the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Go to the edge of the pool and scan the entire pool, bottom and surface, as well as the pool area.
Do not allow a young child in the pool without an adult.
Do not consider young children to be drown proof because they have had swimming lessons. Children must be watched closely while swimming. Do not use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
Learn CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) Baby sitters and other caregivers, like grandparents and older siblings should also know CPR and it is a good idea to take a refresher course prior to the pool season and maybe keep a CPR poster nearby.
Keep rescue equipment by the pool. Be sure a telephone is pool-side with emergency numbers posted nearby.
Remove toys from in and around the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children to the pool.