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How to prevent your child from drowning
7 Ways To Prevent Or Save A Child From Drowning As Summer Heats Up : Shots
To help keep weak swimmers safe, stay "touch-close" and don't rely on a busy lifeguard to be the only eyes on a crowded pool or beach. It's best, say experts working to prevent drownings, to designate a nondrinking adult to scan the water at any pool party or beach outing, and to rotate that "watching" shift every 30 minutes to keep fresh eyes on the kids. Imgorthand/Getty Images hide caption
To help keep weak swimmers safe, stay "touch-close" and don't rely on a busy lifeguard to be the only eyes on a crowded pool or beach. It's best, say experts working to prevent drownings, to designate a nondrinking adult to scan the water at any pool party or beach outing, and to rotate that "watching" shift every 30 minutes to keep fresh eyes on the kids.
I'm going to let you in on one of the most important lessons I learned early on, in my years of training to become a doctor: Absolutely anyone can drown, or lose a loved one to a drowning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 3,900 people die from unintentional drowning in the US each year — with one in five under 14-years-old. And for each pediatric fatality, another five children require emergency care for nonfatal drownings that can cause irreversible organ damage.
Every patient or family I've cared for after a drowning accident has said they didn't think it could happen to them. And yet, it happens, along with the cruel "if onlys" that haunt cautious and well-intentioned people in the aftermath: "If only I'd done something different, or known what to look for." I hear this again and again, especially from those who've lost a child.
Unfortunately, research shows that in the majority of drowning cases, the child was being supervised by an adult when the accident happened. So, as our summer of post-vaccination reunions and vacations heats up, remember just how vulnerable kids are in water. The rate of admissions for nonfatal drownings at the Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Orlando, for example, was already double in May what it was in the last three years at that same time.
Among basic water supervision precautions, a few potentially life-saving details are often overlooked. Here are some essentials to help keep our young swimmers safe this summer:
Follow the 'arm's length' rule
It may sound commonsensical to stay close by when kids are in or near a pool or other body of water, but it's important to know what safety experts consider close enough supervision to avoid a drowning event.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adults who are supervising a child of any age who isn't a strong swimmer should be within one arm's length at all times when kids are in the water, offering "touch supervision" this way.
Dr. Andrew Schmidt, a lifeguard-turned-ER doctor at University of Florida Health-Jacksonville and an expert in water safety, notes the definition of a "strong swimmer" is subjective — and overestimating a child's independence in the water has led to tragic accidents.
Schmidt falls back on the way the American Red Cross, a longtime leader in teaching water safety, defines a "water competent" swimmer. According to the Red Cross guidelines , someone is water-competent if they find themselves in water over their head and are able to:
Swim to the surface after being submerged, then float or tread water for at least one minute.
Swim in a full circle and find an exit, then swim about 25 yards to that exit.
Get out of the water on their own, which means exiting the water without a ladder if they're in a pool.
That's a good starting point for judging kids' vulnerability in the water, but adults still need to stay vigilant. "Even a strong swimmer can get into trouble," warns Dr. Terri McFadden, a professor in the department of pediatrics at Emory University's School of Medicine and medical director of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids in Atlanta.
Treat water safety supervision like a job
Calling appropriate water supervision an "intense job," McFadden is quick to remind the parents of her patients to stay alert even if the child is a proficient swimmer.
Having older kids or young teens — or adults that are weak swimmers — acting as chaperones isn't safe, she says. And if you're the adult in charge, doing anything that draws your eyes away from the water for just a moment is risky. Reading, using your phone in any capacity, socializing, fiddling with the bluetooth speaker or doing household chores – all such lapses are dangerous when children are swimming or playing in water. Drowning accidents have happened in the time it takes for a caretaker to run inside just long enough to put wet clothes in the dryer, or while they were looking on from a kitchen window and doing dishes. No distraction is quick enough to be safe when it comes to kids in or around water – not seconds, not minutes.
Mcfadden is among many leaders in child safety who recommend assigning an adult "watcher" at the pool or waterfront who can agree to be totally attentive for a brief period of time (15 to 30 minutes or so), then switching to another watcher in intervals; short spurts of duty making it easier to stay focused. It doesn't matter at a pool party that there are a dozen responsible adults nearby; if there isn't one pair of mature eyes devoted to watching the young swimmers 100% of the time, the risk of a deadly accident goes up.
Similarly, it's never safe to simply rely on lifeguards. Though trained to scan for emergencies and quickly respond, they can also get distracted, especially when there are lots of people bobbing along or jumping in and out of the water.
Stay sober when you're the adult in charge
There's also been a well-documented spike in alcohol use during the pandemic, and coupling that increase with an uptick in warm weather and waterside celebrations with friends and family can be a drowning accident waiting to happen.
Not only does alcohol lower our level of alertness and slow the reflexes needed to act quickly when we spot danger, it will also make swimming and helping someone to safety slower and more difficult as well.
And I'm not just talking about avoiding being drunk; cognitive processes and reflexes can slow after just a drink or two. Should something bad happen, it's not worth the heartbreak of wondering if the outcome could have been different without alcohol — something I've witnessed first-hand among some families of drowning victims.
The safest bet is to designate one fully sober adult as the watcher for 15 to 30 minutes at a time when kids are in or near the water. "Sober" means those adults agree to not use any mind-altering substances in that time — not alcohol, marijuana or even some allergy medicines or other prescription drugs that can cause drowsiness.
Use the safest life jacket, but don't rely on it alone
Life jackets do provide an added layer of protection against drowning, and most states require kids to wear them at all times when on a boat — regardless of their swimming strength.
Water safety and drowning experts recommend kids only wear life vests or jackets that are US Coast Guard-approved, which includes many different brands and will be noted clearly on the tag or printed onto the life jacket itself, along with a number that tells you what federal regulation it's approved under.
Pay close attention to what's printed there; the labels will tell you if it's not meant for weak or non-swimmers. You'll also find the weight range the vest is designed to fit. It should be nice and snug; wearing a loose life vest is like not wearing one at all.
Schmidt also cautions parents against relying on any unregulated flotation devices — including arm floaties, swimsuits with built-in floats or blow up neck rings. They may be cute, but can provide a false sense of safety that supports distracted supervision, he says.
Don't let shallow water deceive you
The risk to kids isn't equal to the depth of the water when we're talking about drowning. Small children can drown in baby pools, bathtubs or even household water buckets or tide pools — anything with enough water in it to cover their mouth and nose if they can't lift themselves out easily. They need adult supervision in these places, too.
And be forewarned — though child gates, locks and other safety measures are additional safety layers, if you've ever seen a kid use an iPhone you know that they're smart, and craftier than we realize. Most can still problem-solve their way around those barriers and into the water no matter the physical precautions.
Be ready to recognize what drowning or distress looks like
Parents and caretakers are often surprised to hear that drowning can look like nothing you'd notice, hear, or even expect — which is why it takes 100% visual and/or touch supervision to pick up the signs. The splashing, yelling and commotion you've seen in movies could certainly be a signal a child is in trouble, but it doesn't always happen that way.
Instead, be on the lookout for subtle and quick: a child motionless or face down in water or swimming upright but not making any progress forward; a lowered head, or a head tilted way back or with hair covering the eyes or face; a look of fear or doom in a child's eyes; or perhaps just a constant gaze toward shore or an exit/ladder. And a child that jumps or dives into the water but doesn't come up quickly could be missed without sharp visual supervision.
A swimmer of any skill level might need your help, and it can often take all of our senses on full-alert to identify a drowning in progress.
Swim classes are available for even very young kids. Enroll your child ASAP
Many 1-year-old babies can benefit from swim classes taught by a skilled instructor, according to the AAP. Children develop along different timelines, so check with your doctor to see if your child's ready to start.
And swim classes aren't just for beginners or kids — people of any age or ability can benefit. Even if you already know the fundamentals, swim instruction will help you expand your skills and be even safer in the water. Many instructors nowadays teach safety tactics like safer ways to jump into the water, how to safely escape an ocean's riptide or undertow, and how to save others from drowning without putting yourself in danger.
You can find classes through community pools, health departments or regional chapters of the American Red Cross or YMCA; some local nonprofits offer scholarships, so cost shouldn't be a barrier. Plus, the same groups can help you find CPR classes, which is a must for all chaperones and other adults — whether or not water is involved.
It's impossible to fully control environments where water and kids mix, but what we know about drowning is this: Sharp-eyed, adult supervision is key to prevention. And parents can't do it alone — if we all share the responsibility whenever we're near the water, we can save lives.
Dr. Kristen Kendrick is a board-certified family physician in Washington, D.C., and a health and media fellow at NPR and Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Drowning Prevention for Curious Toddlers: What Parents Need to Know
Many toddlers―curious, active and eager to explore their surroundings―are attracted to water. It shines, ripples, splashes, and can even make things float! But, they don't understand that water can be dangerous and aren't old enough yet to do what is needed when in trouble. So, it's essential to protect them from water hazards where you live and where you visit.
The toddler years = higher drowning risk than any other time
Water safety is important for all ages, but especially for toddlers. Drowning is the leading cause of injury death in children 1-4.Young children can drown in as little as an inch or two of water, and it can happen quickly and silently.
The biggest drowning threat facing families with toddlers is unexpected, unsupervised access to water: swimming pools, hot tubs and spas, bathtubs, natural bodies of water such as ponds, and standing water in homes. For example, 69% of all drownings among children age 4 and younger happen during
Create layers of protection to keep your toddler safe
To lower the risk of drowning and other water-related injuries to children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using
"layers" of protection. When children are not expected to be around the water (non-swim times), barriers can help prevent tragedies during inevitable, brief lapses in supervision which are a normal part of every day. When children are playing in and around water, close and constant supervision become essential.
Check for water dangers at home and where you visit
Preventing unintended, unsupervised access to water is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce drowning deaths among young children. Start with these layers of protection in and around your
home to help make your toddler's environment safer.
Research suggests that fencing can prevent
more than half of all swimming pool drownings of young children. Swimming pools, including large, inflatable above-ground pools and other temporary pools, should be completely surrounded by a fence on all 4 sides. The fence should:
Keep the gate locked at all times and check it frequently to be sure it works. Keep toys out of the pool area when not in use so that children are not tempted to try to get through the fence during non-swim time. Also be sure to always cover and lock hot tubs, spas and whirlpools right after using them.
Bird baths, fountains, and ponds. Although these can be beautiful landscape features, consider holding off on installing or using them until your child is older.
Wells, irrigation, or drainage ditches. Also be careful to prevent children's access to open post holes while structures like fences, decks, birdhouses and flagpoles are being put in.
Use safety gates, door locks or doorknob covers to prevent your toddler from going outside or into your garage unnoticed. Make sure siblings and all other family members know to always close the door behind them so younger children don't follow them out.
Never leave a filled, open-top water container unattended. Whenever they're not in use, be sure to completely empty any liquids in containers such as:
The bathroom can be a risky place for toddlers. They can topple headfirst into toilet bowls and filled tubs, or scald themselves with water that's too hot. Use safety latches or doorknob covers to keep bathrooms closed when they're not in use. As an added layer of protection, install latches or locks on toilet seat lids, and consider removing the bath tub drain plug when it's not in use to avoid the tub filling if a child turns on the faucet.
Provide close, constant supervision in and around water
Whenever your toddler is in or near water, give them your undivided attention. It's important to avoid doing anything that would make it hard to stay focused, such as using your cell phone, doing yard work, or drinking alcohol.
The AAP recommends staying within arm's length, providing constant "touch supervision," whether it's bath time or swim time. Most child drownings inside the home occur in bathtubs, usually during a lapse in adult supervision. During swim time, get in the water with your toddler. If you need to get out, take your child with you, even if lifeguards are present.
Especially during parties or picnics at the pool or lake, when it's easy to get distracted, assign a "water watcher" to constantly keep eyes on the child. Take turns, passing along a water watcher card to the next responsible adult after a set time (such as 15 minutes).
Children should always wear
life jackets when in, on, or near natural bodies of water, such as lakes or rivers. Make sure they fit properly and are approved by the US Coast Guard. Children and others who lack strong swim skills should also wear life jackets when at a pool or water park.
Start swim lessons as soon as your child is ready
The AAP recommends swim lessons for all children, and their parents, as another layer of water safety. Recent studies suggest that water survival skills training and swim lessons can help reduce drowning risk for all children including those 1 to 4 years.
Deciding when to start should be based on a variety of individual factors, including how often your child may be around water, your child's emotional maturity, physical and developmental abilities and limitations, interest in learning to swim, and how comfortable he or she is in the water. Your pediatrician is a good resource to help know if your toddler is ready.
Be ready to respond
Know how to respond when there is trouble. Everyone, including parents, caregivers and older children, should
learn CPR and safe rescue techniques to respond to a drowning incident. Water safety is a family affair!
Always keep your toddler's safety in mind around water―at home, where your friends, relatives, and caregivers live, and places you stay during family trips. Prevent unsupervised access during non-swim times and provide close, constant supervision while in or around water. Be sure to talk with your pediatrician at your child's wellness visits about guarding against common water dangers.
Swim Lessons: When to Start & What Parents Should Know
Infant Water Safety: Protect Your New Baby from Drowning
Pool Dangers and Drowning Prevention―When It's Not Swimming Time
Keep Kids with Autism Safe from Wandering: Tips from the AAP
AAP Drowning Prevention Campaign Toolkit
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
What all parents should know about children's water safety
A drowning child looks nothing like it is shown in Hollywood movies.
According to WHO, drowning is the third leading cause of death from unintentional injuries. First of all, children 1-4 years old are at risk, followed by children 5-14 years old. Most often, tragedies occur in the summer.
Where can a child drown?
Anywhere. This does not always happen in deep waters. "A small child can drown even in a glass."
If there is enough water in a container for a child to dip his face in, it is already dangerous. First of all, this applies to the age of 1-4 years. Babies drown in buckets, basins, puddles, garden barrels, and even pet drinkers. If a child is only chest-deep or waist-deep in a pool of water, he can still drown. There are cases when unattended school-age children drowned in the bath, although there was just nothing there.
How do you know if a child is drowning?
First of all, forget the shots from Hollywood movies. The child does not flounder or scream, he just drowns quietly and quickly, usually within 30 seconds. All the efforts of the respiratory system are aimed at getting a breath of oxygen, so there will be no loud screams. Instead of waving his arms, a drowning person tries to push them off, from the outside it looks like a game. Often, when a child is drowning, parents are very close and do not understand that the baby needs help. This is impossible to understand if you do not know what drowning really looks like. Remember the main signs.
Mouth at or below water level, or wide open with head thrown back.
"Glass", "empty" look.
The legs are usually not visible because the drowning person's body is in an upright position.
The child's hair falls on his face, eyes, and he does not try to brush it off.
The child tries to swim in a certain direction, but remains in place.
The child tries to roll over on his back, but fails.
If you do not understand whether the child is drowning or just playing, ask him if everything is all right. Doesn't answer? There is no time to think: quickly pull him out of the water.
Once you have taken the child out of the water, check to see if he is conscious. If conscious, hug and comfort. If the child does not respond and does not react to anything, check if he is breathing, if his heart is beating. Put your ear to your chest, check the pulse on your neck, put a mirror to your nose and mouth, check if it is foggy. For everything about everything, you have somewhere five seconds .
No breathing or pulse - call an ambulance immediately and proceed with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (chest compressions and artificial respiration).
A child under one year of age should be laid on its back with its head tilted back and the mouth open by pressing on the chin. Put your lips around his mouth and nose, exhale into his lungs, repeat again. Then put your index and middle fingers together, place them in the center of your chest just below the level of your nipples and press quickly - 30 times in 15 seconds. Repeat artificial respiration and heart massage in the same pattern until the child begins to breathe or until the ambulance arrives.
If the child is older than one year, the steps will be similar, but artificial respiration is carried out using the mouth-to-mouth method, and the nose must be pinched. An indirect heart massage is performed not with fingers, but with the base of the palm. It must be installed approximately at the level of the nipples, in the middle. For a small child, heart massage can be done with one hand, for a large child with two.
The main safety measure is constant supervision
Most often, children who are left without supervision drown. Even if there are many adults near the pond, this still does not guarantee safety. First, not all people know the signs that a child is drowning. They can stand nearby and calmly watch how the baby "plays" in the water.
Secondly, when there are many adults, everyone and at the same time no one is watching the children. Everyone hopes for the others.
Therefore, rule number one: at least one adult should be nearby, in the water, and only look after the child. You can't be distracted by anything. Five seconds to view messages on the phone - and the tragedy has already occurred. Even if the child can swim, one of the adults should be nearby. If there are several children in the pond, they need to be introduced to each other and explained that everyone should periodically check if their friends are nearby, if everything is in order. The child must clearly know the rules of behavior near water bodies and the pool.
Teach your child to swim
Parents decide at what age to start. Better as soon as you feel that your child has matured psychologically and physically. You can teach him to swim on his own, but it is better to enroll in a special section where a professional instructor will deal with him.
Wear a vest and sleeves
Special vests and sleeves can save your child's life. You must use them, but you should not rely on them completely. The first step is constant supervision.
St. Petersburg GKU “Fire-rescue squad of the Petrograd district”
Territorial department of the Ministry of Emergencies in the Petrograd district
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Lessons in the center of Petgrad R-ven. Ultimate Frisbee section.
The child is drowning! What to do so that a family vacation by the water does not turn into a disaster / Useful - Interesting in Ishim
Real drowning is not like what is shown in the movies!
The man threw himself into the water in his clothes and quickly swam towards the couple. "Look, he thought you were drowning," said the husband. Before that, they enthusiastically hit the water with their hands, trying to raise as much spray as possible, the wife squealed every now and then. "We're fine!" – through laughter shouted woman.
But the man did not stop, passed the spouses and swam to the place where… three meters from the parents their nine-year-old daughter was drowning.
Why was this person able to see that the child was drowning from a distance of 15 meters, while the parents, being only three meters away, did not notice anything?
Alas, the statistics are disappointing: drowning is the second most common fatal accident involving children after car accidents. In other words, children drown, and drown menacingly often. Moreover, in every second case, the child is not alone during the incident - around him (both in the water and on the shore) there are people who are theoretically able to help him.
Adults are always responsible for the safety of children on the water. Therefore, no matter what happens, in the vast majority of cases, children die either because adults carelessly watched them, or because they were incorrectly rescued. How to do both correctly - we will teach.
Here are a few signs that you can recognize a drowning person:
Head low, mouth at water level0018
Glazed empty eyes, unable to focus,
Hair falls on the forehead or eyes,
legs are not visible, the body is in the vertical position,
Founding breathing, difficulty attempts to swim in a certain direction, there is no movement,
an attempt to roll over onto his back,
movement as if a person is climbing an invisible ladder.
If you notice something like this, ask the child if he is okay. If he doesn’t answer, he most likely needs help and you have less than 30 seconds to provide it. And yet - children who splash in the water usually do it quite noisily. If suddenly there is silence - be sure to check where your child is.
Child safety on the water starts at the beach.
Before giving clear instructions to parents in case of an extreme accident, when a child has already had a problem (he hit in the water, swallowed, began to drown, lost consciousness, etc. ), it makes sense to say a few words about how you should organize a vacation near the water (and on the water!) so that nothing bad just happens.
So that the rest on the shore does not turn into an accident, parents should:
Teach their children not only to swim, but also to dive and just stay (rest) on the water. This is an extremely useful skill that in the future life the child will come in handy for sure and more than once.
Vigilantly watch and any children in the water - and for kids who play with pebbles in shallow water, and even for those children who already know how to swim and dive. Do not let your child swim alone.
It is extremely dangerous for a child to go swimming with chewing gum or any food in his mouth. The kid plays, flounders, splashes and imperceptibly for himself can inhale this very chewing gum or a piece of food, clogging his airways.
Do not allow children to push or fight in the water, or to dive under each other, knocking them down. Any prank in which children risk hitting their heads against any obstacle under water can result in reflex respiratory arrest and, as a result, drowning. Do not allow children to jump into the water from a height (from a pier, bridge, bungee, side of a boat or yacht, etc.), if you personally do not know the depth in this place and the state of the bottom.
Do not allow children to dive in cloudy water. If your child dives, you must see him underwater!
Do not let children go into the depths and "jump" on the waves - very often such waves literally drag children towards the open sea. If a child is under 5 years old, an adult should be in the water no further than arm's length from him. It is especially vigilant to watch the bathing kids, and even those who were armed with all kinds of inflatable watercraft.
Bathing children should only be supervised by adults, not by older children (as is often the case when mom wants to sunbathe and dad has a party of a thousand with other dads).
In addition, there are strict prohibitions that each parent must convey to their children in a delicate but unconditional form.
So, children are strictly forbidden:
On their own (without permission from adults) to go into the water.
Disobey your "orders" while he is in the water (even if he is no longer a baby and is confidently riding the waves).
Play "drowning". No jokes of this kind are allowed in the water!
Drink (and even just take in their mouth!) water from the reservoir in which they bathe.
Dive (even in clear water) if they can't swim yet.
If trouble happens: how to save a drowning child
It would be extremely reasonable, correct and useful if every person had the skills to provide emergency care, including drowning. But if there are children in your family with whom you now and then spend hours of fun and relaxation by the water (and on the water), then as a responsible parent, you simply must have at least an elementary idea of how to quickly and correctly help a child, who nearly drowned.
So what to do and what not to do if you see a child drowning:
If it happens at a depth, and you categorically do not know how to swim - do not even try to save the child, with a high degree of probability both of you will drown.
The first thing to do when someone is drowning is to shout loudly and call for help. And scream twice as loud if you don't know how to swim yourself, or if you know you can't pull another person out of the water.
If you are relaxing on a "civilized" beach, professional lifeguards are on duty. And if they are there, no one will be able to pull the child out of the water faster and more correctly than they are.
If the place is “wild”, then in this case there will surely be people among the vacationers who swim better than you. If you are a confident swimmer, your task is to get the child out of the water onto land as soon as possible.
As soon as the child is taken out of the water , it must be laid on a flat hard surface, removed from excess clothing and, if it does not show signs of life (for more details, see the instruction video), Start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately.
Remember, you have no more than 10 seconds to think! Where and under what circumstances the child drowned is completely unimportant. It doesn't matter whether the water was salty or fresh, whether the child turned blue or turned white, how long the child was drowning ... Rescue and resuscitation measures will always be the same!
At the same time instruct someone from the people who are close to you (and there will certainly be those vacationers on the shore) to call the rescue service. Because any emergency measures, including CPR, exist primarily to maintain blood circulation in the brain of the victim before the arrival of doctors or rescuers. So the sooner you, or someone else, can call for help from professionals, the more likely this child is to be saved.
Do not turn the injured child face down, throw it over the knee or shake it by the ankles! Trying to rid his lungs of water in this way will only waste precious time.