When I was growing up my parents were extremely cautious about me and my siblings being around water. I was never able to go rafting down the Colorado River with friends and water parks were out of the question unless supervised. At the very young age of two, my brother passed away from drowning in a large body of water. Once I was old enough, I understood why my parents were so strict about water safety due to this catastrophic incident that shaped our lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of injury and death among children 1-4 years old. Of drowning victims who survive and are treated in emergency rooms, more than half are hospitalized or transferred for further care.
“These individuals often experience brain damage, which can cause memory problems, learning disabilities or permanent loss of basic functioning,” says Amanda Harding, a pediatrician at the Banner Health Center at Banner Fort Collins Medical Center. ” It is very important that a child never be left unattended around water. Any person charged with the critical duty of watching children in the water should be free from distraction, know how to swim well and be trained in rescue techniques.”
Thankfully, there are easy precautions that parents can take to protect their children from drowning.
- Use eye-to-eye supervision
- Designate one parent/adult who is not drinking or eating to actively supervise pool time
- Create barriers with fences, locking gates (minimum five feet) and close off doggy doors
- Learn CPR and enroll children in swimming lessons as early as nine months old
- Use Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Avoid floaters, which are not certified life-saving equipment. They are toys that create a false sense of security
- Put alarms on pools, doors and windows
“One of the most important things a parent can do to help prevent child drowning, alongside pool barriers and direct supervision, is becoming CPR certified.” explains Russell Horton, a pediatrician at Banner Health Center in Queen Creek Ariz. “Parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will help give the parents a peace of mind when their child is around water.”
For our family, losing our brother was extremely difficult, however sharing this loss and helping bring attention to drowning prevention helps his legacy and memory live on. To learn more about drowning prevention read this article or read six important tips to prevent adult drowning.