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Be Safe Near Water!

Now that the hot desert summer months are upon us, it is a good time to take a minute to review Drowning Prevention.

First, let’s take a look at some statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control, the Academy of Pediatrics, the National Safety Council and the National Safe Kids Foundation.

  • It is estimated that 10 people a day in the United States drown, with 2 of those being children under the age of 14.
  • For each drowning death, there are between 1 and 4 nonfatal near-drowning events that are serious enough to require hospitalization.
  • A swimming pool is 14 times more likely to cause death versus a car accident in children under the age of 4.
  • Children under the age of 5 and adolescents between the ages of 15-24 have the highest rates of drownings.
  • Each year, 5,000 children under the age of 14 are hospitalized, 15% of those die and 20% suffer severe and permanent brain damage. 
As a Pediatric Critical Care Nurse with over 20 years experience, I have taken care of many children who were Near Drownings.  The sad and unfortunate fact is there is rarely a gray area, the child will either do very well and recover with very little long-term consequences or they do very poorly and more often than not pronounced dead within 24 hours of admission due to the length of time their brain was without oxygen.  

Drownings are 100% preventable.  When around water, be it the beautiful lake we live by or your pool, you have to be vigilant in watching your little ones.

While at the lake, you have to have your eyes on your child 100% of the time. Drownings can happen in an instant.  With a backyard pool, having gates that lock and a pool cover can go a long way in stopping your energetic toddler from falling into the pool.  Also putting locks high up on the door to prevent accidental opening of the door while you are in another room can go a long way in preventing a tragedy from occurring.  A pool gate alarm system can also alert you to an unexpected opening of the gate into the pool area. There are also floating pool alarm which sounds when the water is disturbed.

If you do own a pool or frequent a friend or relatives house that does own a pool, knowing CPR is a must in the event that a child does fall into the pool.  Brain damage can start in as little as 4 minutes without oxygen, making immediate CPR attempts a priority in having a positive outcome following a drowning. While our Fire Department does have a rapid response time, it will still take them 5+ minutes to get there and be able to provide resuscitation efforts, longer than your little one has to prevent any type of long-term brain damage or brain death.

Having fun in the water on these long and hot summer days can provide some relief to the heat, but you have to be hyper-vigilant when kids are in the water. At least one adult should refrain from any type of alcoholic beverages so that they can stay focused on watching the kids and be able to react quickly in the unfortunate event of a drowning accident.

Have fun but stay safe when splashing around in the water !!  A little prevention can go a long way and can keep your summer memories happy and healthy !!

Susan P.
[Former] Admin Team Member