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May is National Water Safety Month, and while my heart behind this post is not to shame anyone for what they do or use in relation to water and their children, I did want to share some information on the dangers of drowning and how we can be proactive as parents in arming ourselves with knowledge and confidence in potentially harmful situations.
HERE ARE THE FACTS (REF)
More children ages 1-4 years old die from drowning than any other cause of death.
Every year there are 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings in the US, and 8,000 nonfatal drownings.
Non-fatal drownings can cause brain damage, long-term disability and other serious outcomes.
Contrary to popular belief, you won’t hear a child screaming for help or waving their hands — drowning is silent. Here are the signs to look for:
- Head tilted back
- Mouth at water level
- No waiving or yelling for help
- Eyes appear glassy/empty
- Bodies stay upright in the water
If your child is missing, check the water FIRST. It only takes a few seconds to drown, so don’t waste them searching in other places.
DRY DROWNING (REF)
With so-called dry drowning, water never reaches the lungs. Instead, breathing in water causes the vocal cords to spasm and close up. That shuts off their airways, making it hard to breathe. You would start to notice those signs right away — it wouldn’t happen out of the blue days later.
SECONDARY DROWNING (REF)
“Secondary drowning” is a term used to describe another drowning complication. It happens if water gets into the lungs, which can irritate the lungs’ lining and fluid can build up, causing a condition called pulmonary edema. You’d likely notice your child having trouble breathing right away, and it might get worse over the next 24 hours.
SIGNS TO WATCH FOR (REF)
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent coughing
- Lethargy or sleepiness
- Pool fencing, door locks or alarms
- Learn CPR (Thrive Training Institute offers a CPR + First Aid course for parents)
- Enroll in ISR (Infant Swimming Resource) lessons – these teach your children essential survival skills
- Empty all containers, such as kiddie pools, bathtubs, buckets, large coolers, etc. immediately after use and turn them upside down to prevent unintentional water collection.
- Never leave pool toys or floats in or around the pool. Children may be tempted to reach into the pool to grab them.
- Dedicate a responsible adult or take turns as the “water watcher.” Put phones away and keep your eyes on the pool at all times, even using a designated lanyard or something to pass onto the next person would be helpful.
There are many safety precautions we can take, as you can see above. Even with constant adult supervision, drowning isn’t 100% preventable. A child can jump into deep water at any moment, so as parents, staying aware and informed gives us the biggest advantage to take action if needed.
FLOATIES & LIFE JACKETS:
Puddle jumpers and other flotation devices promote the “drowning position” – vertical head-up, feet-down posture, which inhibits the ability to swim. These also create a false sense of security for the child and parent — kids think they can swim or forget to put their floaties back on before jumping back in the pool.
On a boat or open water, use coast guard approved life jackets. These will be marked “US Coast Guard” with an approval number.
ALIVE Solutions has tested many different colors and patterns of fabrics in pools with light, dark or blue bottoms. As you can see in the image below, blues, greens and whites tend to blend into the water, so wearing bright, neon colored swimsuits promotes the most visibility.
SWIMWEAR FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY:
- Drowning Facts
- Dry Drowning & Secondary Drowning
- Thrive Training Institute
- Infant Swimming Resource
- ALIVE Solutions
- CAST Water Safety Foundation
- The River Kelly Fund
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