|Drowning is the leading cause of death for children under the age five. Child drownings can happen in a matter of seconds and often there is no splashing to warn of trouble. Curiosity, rapidly changing skills, and an inability to understand danger place young children at risk.
Children can drown in the time it takes to:
…Cross the room for a towel (10 seconds), a child in a bathtub can become submerged.
…Answer the phone (20-30 seconds), a submerged child can lose consciousness.
…Put laundry in the machine (3 to 4 minutes), a submerged child can sustain brain damage.
…Answer the door and sign for a package (4-6 minutes), a submerged child can suffer permanent brain damage and brain death.
- 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.
Special note: Swimming lessons for children less than 4 years of age will not provide “drown proofing” and may give parents a false sense of security (source: American Academy of Pediatrics). Twenty-five percent of all young drowning victims have had swimming lessons.