Recently I watched a story on our local TV news about a toddler that fell into his family’s backyard pond. The mother was close by and only had her back turned for a moment. Fortunately, this mother was able to retrieve her son from the bottom of the pond and, since she had CPR training, revive him before the ambulance arrived. This story has a happy ending; the little boy is fine and the pond is now a sandbox.
Not Always a Happy Ending
All too often though, stories like this end in tragedy. Drowning is the second most common cause of death for small children from 1 to 4 years old! The little ones are at risk because they are usually unaware of potential dangers and they move so darn fast! As parents and caregivers, we need to minimize the dangers.
The bathtub and backyard pools account for most drowning accidents involving small children. It only takes 2 ½ inches of water to drown a child. Even if the child does not drown, near drownings can leave a child with permanent brain damage. Most drownings are preventable with a little diligence and planning.
What You Can Do to Prevent Drowning
- Watch Your Child: The most important thing is to watch your children constantly around any water, inside or out. Never leave them alone in or near water for even a moment. Keep your eyes on them and be within arms reach of small children at all times – really! It only takes a split second for tragedy to occur.
I’ve observed little ones playing at the waters edge while the parents were about 5 feet away – but with their backs to their child. That child could drown and they wouldn’t hear a thing – even if only looking away for a minute, that is all it takes.
- Be Aware of Standing Water: When bath time is done, empty the tub right away. That also goes for any wading pools and buckets of water too (even the dirty water in a cleaning bucket can be a temptation and a hazard for a child). The toilet can also be dangerous; keep toilet lids down or get a toilet seat lock.
- Teach Your Kids to Swim: A great defence against drowning is swimming lessons. Many of these lessons do not just teach your child to swim, but also teach different water skills and safety. However, swimming lessons will not ‘drown-proof’ your child and there is no substitute for direct supervision. You still need to watch them very closely.
- Enclose Your Swimming Pool or Pond: If you have a swimming pool at home, you should completely enclose it on all sides and have a lock on the gate. CPR training can really save lives. If you have a hot tub, ensure that it is covered securely when you are not using it. Backyard ponds and other water features should also either be fenced in or have a grate covering them – or, like the woman at the beginning of this article, turn them into a sandbox or play area while your children (or grandchildren) are young.
- Learn CPR: CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is an important lifesaving technique that anyone who plans to spend time around the water should know – particularly if you are in charge of the care of children. While CPR can sometimes save drowning victims’ lives, it can also help stave off death until emergency personnel can be on scene.
Water play can be great fun — please play safe!