Drowning is a silent killer and can happen in a matter of seconds
08-18-2010 (Dayton, OH) -
Dayton Children’s has seen a 20 percent increase in near drownings and drownings since 2008 - and the summer is not over.
Of the children who have visited the Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center at Dayton Children’s for near drowning or drowning in 2010:
- 56% were children ages three or four
- 56% were males
In addition, the majority of near drowning incidents occurred in backyard or family pools or ponds.
“Having a pool, pond, spa, or hot tub on your property is a huge responsibility when it comes to safety issues,” says Lisa Schwing, trauma program manager at Dayton Children’s. “It’s especially important to make sure you take proper precautions when you have a curious toddler in your home.”
The experts at Dayton Children’s recommend having a fence (one that goes directly around the pool or spa) between the water and your house. A fence can go a long way toward preventing pool-related drownings.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), fences should meet the following rules:
- Fences should stand at least 4 feet (130 centimeters) high with no foot or handrails for kids to climb on.
- The slats should be less than 4 inches (110 millimeters) apart so a child can't get through, or if chain link, should have no opening larger than 13/4 inches (50 millimeters).
- Gates should be self-closing and self-latching, and the latch should be out of kids' reach.
You can buy other devices, such as pool covers and alarms, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that they have not proved effective against drowning for very young children. The AAP strongly supports fencing as the best measure of protection.
Additional water safety tips for children of all ages:
- Never leave a young child unattended in the bathroom, especially while bathing — even if the child appears to be well propped in a safety tub or bath ring. The front door or a phone call can wait if you are giving a young child a bath. Remember to have all bathing items on hand such as shampoo, soap and a towel so you are not searching for these items as the child is in the bathtub.
- You can reduce the risk of scalding by turning the water heater thermostat in your home down to 120º Fahrenheit (49º Celsius) and by always testing the water with your wrist or elbow before placing your child in the bath. Children have thinner skin than adults and will burn more easily.
- Outside the home, your awareness can go a long way in preventing accidents. Find out where the water hazards in your neighborhood are. Who has a pool or water spa? Where are the retaining ponds or creeks that may attract kids? Make neighbors who have pools aware that you have a young child and ask them to keep their gates locked.
- Kids shouldn't run or push around the pool and should never dive in areas that are not marked for diving. If the weather turns bad (especially if there's lightning), they should get out of the pool immediately. Let them know, too, that they should contact the lifeguard or an adult if there's an emergency.
- Above all, supervise your kids at all times. Don't assume that just because your child took swimming lessons or is using a flotation device such as an inner tube or inflatable raft that there is no drowning risk.
- If you're at a party, it's especially easy to become distracted, so designate an adult who will be responsible for watching the children. If you leave your child with a babysitter, make sure he or she knows your rules for the pool.
- Learn CPR (other caregivers should learn it, too) and make sure you have safety equipment, such as emergency flotation devices, that are in good shape and are close at hand when boating or swimming. Post emergency numbers on all phones and make sure all caregivers are aware of their locations.
- After your kids are finished playing in the pool for the day, be sure to remove all pool toys and put them away. Children have drowned while trying to retrieve playthings left in the pool.
- If you were using a small inflatable baby pool, empty out the water and turn the pool upside-down so a child cannot accidentally fall in.
“Whenever a child is missing, always check the pool first. Survival depends on a quick rescue and restarting breathing as soon as possible,” says Schwing. “If you find a child in the water, immediately get the child out while calling loudly for help. If someone else is available, have them call 911. Check to ensure the child's air passages are clear. If the child is not breathing, immediately start CPR as necessary.”
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