As an ER doctor, nothing is more heartbreaking than tragedies that involve children. I will never, ever forget these cases, and so I wanted to draw attention to a new report released by the CDC regarding drowning and children under 4. Other than birth defects, drowning kills more American children 1 to 4 years old than any other causes.
In the cases that I have taken care of, adults did not even realize that the child was in the pool–often because there was a fence or some barrier around the pool that gave them a sense of security. One child had pulled a chair up against the fence and used this to climb over the fence, accessing the pool. So, with summer now in full swing, follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep your family and friends safe!
- all adult caregivers should learn CPR
- NEVER leave a toy in or around a pool
- Never leave a child alone in or near a pool–having had cases where the adults did not know the child was in the pool (because no one was using the pool), I now have my own rule that I advise patients–if you have guests and there are children, have adults “posted” in the vicinity of the pool, even if they’re not using it, to be able to keep an eye. Remember, you cannot rely on hearing a “splash”. Some adults do not realize how quickly and quietly a drowning can happen.
- Children ages 1 to 4 should take swimming lessons (although that alone does not guarantee them safety in the water)
- Pools should be surrounded by a fence that is at least 4 feet high (to prevent young children from being able to climb over), and have a self-latching gate that is out of the reach of small children
For more information, go to Safe Kids USA
Going to the pool in the summer is one of the highlights of the season! But, I will never forget the heartbreak of caring for drowning victims. So PLEASE: use my experiences and these tips to prevent tragedies and keep your summer fun, happy, and healthy.