Drowning: The Silent Killer
Unlike the depiction of drowning in a movie, drowning is a fast and silent killer. Don’t expect splashing and yelling. Children who are in water trouble sink and drown. Here’s what Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) wants you to know about kids, drowning and how to prevent a tragedy.
Myth: We have plenty of people watching kids at our pool party.
Reality: Drowning can easily happen with many people around a pool1 because drowning is silent and swift. Instead of adults milling around the pool, you need actively engaged adults within arm’s reach of each child in the pool.
Myth: Someone who is drowning will flail and call for help.
Reality: Within seconds, a person struggling to stay afloat can sink, never having a chance to call for help or wave their arms for attention. Each child needs an adult observer who can ensure their safety. If they can’t respond to a question, “Are you alright?” they need help.
Myth: My child wears arm floaties, so he/she is fine in the water.
Reality: Arm floats, inflatable rings and pool toys are not a substitute for adult supervision. In fact, some devices can tip a child’s head into the water and make it difficult to roll away from water2. If your child cannot swim, use an appropriately-sized U.S. Coast Guard approved personal floatation device.
Myth: My pool is safe because you can only enter it from our patio.
Reality: Your swimming pool, including large inflatable types, should be surrounded by (at minimum) a four-foot tall fence on all sides, including the patio side. It should only be accessible through a gate that is locked with a child-proof lock. Local ordinances may require a higher fence.
Myth: We only use a kiddie pool, so our child is safe playing outside.
Reality: Children can drown in as little as one-inch of water. Even children in a kiddie pool must be supervised.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children between 1 and 4 years of age3, most occurring in residential swimming pools. However every year, children drown in other ways, like in bathtubs, toilets and hot tubs. Open water, such as oceans, rivers, creeks and lakes, poses a drowning threat, especially for older children.
Bath, bucket and other water hazards
Most infant drownings – under age one year – happen in bathtubs. Supportive baby bathtub “rings” are intended to help you give a child a bath. If a child is unsupervised in the bath, the suction base may release, tipping your baby into bath water.
Here are some other potential water hazards to be aware of in and around the home – and tips to manage them:
Water hazard safety tip
Bucket Empty and turn over to store
Toilet Close lid and use child lock to secure
Diaper pail Use child lock to secure
Ice chests with melted ice Observe when in use or keep out of reach of children; empty and turn over to store
Hot tubs, spas and whirlpools Install multiple drains (to reduce suction) and include an anti-entrapment drain
Adult supervision is needed whenever a young child is in the vicinity of a source of water, including water fountains, ponds, wells and post holes.
CPR saves lives
If your children are around bodies of water on a regular basis, learning CPR is a must. This skill can save lives, reduce the severity of injury and improve the chance of survival. CPR training is available through LVHN. If you want to register for a CPR class, call 888-402-LVHN. Visit LVHN.org/children to learn more about caring for children and to find a doctor.