|In the time it takes to answer a phone, a child can drown…..
In recent years an average of approximately 250 children under 5 years of age drowned in pools nationwide. More than half of these deaths occurred in the summer months. Among unintentional injuries, drowning is the second leading cause of death to this age group after motor vehicle accidents. Another 2,700 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for near-drowning incidents. A child may survive the immersion, but still suffer severe, permanent brain damage requiring life-long hospitalization.
Drowning is an all or nothing event. A child loses consciousness in 20 seconds or less. Most adults assume that if their child falls into the pool, they will hear splashing and screaming, giving them plenty of time to react. The reality is drowning happens quickly and silently – without warning.
Why do Children Drown?
Children under the age of five have no fear of water. They associate water with play, not with danger. Though it seems obvious, close supervision of young children is vital for families with a home pool but not just when outside using the pool. In most childhood drownings, the child was last seen safely indoors – taking a nap, playing alongside other children or watching TV. Also, just because a child knows how to swim, doesn’t mean they are drown-proof.
Where Do Drownings Occur?
Children under the age of five drown most often in residential pools and spas. But any amount of water that covers a child’s mouth and nose can result in a drowning. (As little as two inches of water.) Always look for unsuspecting areas of water where children may be at risk such as toilets, buckets, ice chests and wading pools.
Who is Watching the Kids?
Adults must establish and communicate who is responsible for child supervision. A common scenario of childhood drownings is that if often occurs because one parent mistakenly thought the other one was watching the child. Always maintain constant visual supervision of children in and around the pool area. Never leave a child alone near water for any reason even for a few seconds.
Preventing Childhood Drownings
The key to preventing these tragedies is to have layers of protection. This includes placing barriers around your pool to prevent access, such as a five-foot fence, using alarms on doors that access the pool and being prepare in case of an emergency. Learn CPR. If a child is missing always check the pool area first.
- Childhood drownings and near drownings happen in seconds. Drownings usually take place when there is a brief lapse in supervision or when children are left unattended.
- Most children who drown were last seen in the home and had been out of sight for less than 5 minutes.
- Most children were in the care of either one or both parents. With parents doing routine household activities and providing normal levels of supervision.
- Children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
- Layers of protection are key in preventing drownings. Barriers include: four sided isolation fencing, self closing, self latching doors and gates (that open outward), automatic sliding door closets, door alarms, automatic pool covers, pool nets, and placing locks on doors out of the reach of children.
- Do not rely on floating devices to keep children water safe.
- Keep a phone and emergency numbers by the pool area.
- Learn Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Children as young as 12 can learn CPR.
- Do not leave toys in the pool or spa, as children will try to retrieve them.
- Keep climbable objects away from pool fencing.
- Put locks on toilets and keep children out of the bathroom.
- Empty wading pools, ice chest, and buckets immediately after use.
- Instruct babysitters and other family members on the hazards associated with pools and other potential water sources.
- Have a “water watcher” whenever children are in or around the pool area.
- Supervision is no substitute for barriers, and barriers are no substitute for supervision. They work together.
- Establish and communicate child supervision.
The Anaheim Fire Department pool safety tips in English (157kb pdf file) or Spanish (23kb pdf file).
The Anaheim Fire Department pool safety check-off sheet. English (44kb pdf file)
Check out the action steps for drowning prevention from the Anaheim Fire Department. English and Spanish (175kb pdf file)
Check out some of the pool safety products. English (123kb pdf file) or Spanish (27kb pdf file)