Curious toddlers, unintentional drowning
Summer means fun in and around water. To prepare you and your child for water-related activities, check out the below information.
Drowning is the leading cause of death in children 1-4 years old and the 3rd leading cause of death of children 5-19 years old. Drowning can occur in less than one minute! Young children are most likely to drown in home swimming pools, and children less than one year are at the highest risk of drowning in buckets of water or bathtubs. Children are curious, so it is the adult's job to make sure they cannot access water unsupervised by creating physical barriers. The majority of young children less than 5 years old are not expected to be near the water at the time of the drowning. Adolescent submersion injuries are commonly due to overestimation of their skills, not understanding risks or dangerous situations, and high-risk, impulsive behaviors.
All pools should be completely surrounded by fencing with self-latching gates to prevent children from entering the area unsupervised. Children should wear properly fitting U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets when in, on or near natural bodies of water.An adult who is able to recognize and respond to a child in distress should supervise children who are around or in water 100 percent of the time, even when life guards are present. Swim lessons may decrease the risk of drowning, but it does not completely remove that risk. For non-swimmers, an adult should be within reach of the child. The person responsible for supervising children near or in water needs to be completely focused on that task. Texts, chores and other tasks are less important than ensuring the safety of the children. Supervision duties should have a clear handoff between adults so that the person expected to be watching the children is completely aware of their task.
This video is a conversation between Morgan Miller and Nichole Hughes. Both moms lost their toddlers by drowning. They are advocacy leaders on water safety for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and this video is a part of the AAP Drowning Prevention Toolkit.
By: Teri Lynch, MD
Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children Pediatric Emergency Room