Don’t let your young child become a drowning victim this summer. With temperatures in the high 80s and 90s, jumping in a pool or nearby river may seem like a great way to cool off, but if you have a child under the age of 14 they could be one of the 1 in 5 children who die from drowning every day.
Accidental drowning is the leading cause of injury death in children ages 1- 4, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for a near-drowning incident. These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).
Most toddlers who drown, fall into a home swimming pool, while more than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings among those 15 years and older occurred in natural water settings, including lakes, rivers and oceans, according to the CDC.
Drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water (such as bathtubs, swimming pools, buckets), and even in the presence of lifeguards. It is important to always designate a responsible adult to watch all children swimming or playing in or around water.
Drownings occur quickly and quietly because, in the vast majority of cases, drowning people are physiologically incapable of calling out for help because the human body is wired to give priority to the primary respiratory function, breathing, and not to speech. Waving arms to draw attention is often not possible while a person is drowning, as the natural human instinct is to press our arms outwards and downwards onto the surface of the water so we can get our mouths above water to breathe.
It is important, especially for parents and caregivers, to know the signs of a drowning victim: they don’t splash much, they don’t wave, and they don’t yell or call out.
If you have a swimming pool at home install four-sided fencing and clear the pool and deck of toys so that children are not tempted to enter the pool unsupervised, advises the CDC. If you are in or around natural water settings use U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets, know the meaning of and obey warning signs and watch for dangerous waves and currents.
In the case of a drowning, knowing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can mean the difference between life and death. The more quickly CPR is started, the better chance of improved outcomes. In the time it takes for the paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.