By Angel MedFlight Contributor
There are four painful words that appear far too often in news headlines during the summer months and this summer is no exception: Child Drowns in Pool. A Google news search of the words “child drowns” brings up far too many of these tragic stories. In the Shreveport, La., area for example, three children have drowned in less than a month. Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance is deeply saddened to learn of these tragic losses including one that happened recently in our Valley community. We’d like to remind you of the steps you can take to prevent these terrible accidents.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 300 children each year under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools and these are pools usually owned by a family member. On top of that, 2,000 children in that age group are treated in hospital emergency rooms for submersion injuries.
A CPSC study in Arizona, California and Florida found that 75% of submersion victims were between the age of 1 and 3 years old, and of that group, 65 percent were boys. The report says “Toddlers, in particular, often do something unexpected because their capabilities change daily.”
The CPSC says child drowning is a silent death, that there is often no splashing to alert anyone nearby the child is in trouble. Pool submersions happen quickly — in the time it takes to answer the phone or the front door. The report says 77% of the victims had been missing from sight for 5 minutes or less.
Often in the news, we hear of family members who didn’t see their child wander away. In the CPSC’s study most victims were being supervised by one or both parents. A story on the Shreveport Times’ website reported that a 2-year-old girl drowned in an above ground pool. The report says she had let herself out of the house “while her mother slept and her father ran errands.”
One way to protect against small children getting to the pool unnoticed is installing a door alarm. The CPSC says that if the house forms one side of the barrier, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce an audible sound when a door is unexpectedly opened. Install an alarm that can be temporarily turned off by an adult for a single opening of the door using a keypad or a switch that is out of a child’s reach.
Alarms are just one barrier that can be used to guard against child drownings. Others include fences or walls and power safety covers. For above ground pools, steps and ladders that lead to them should be secured and locked, or removed from the pool when it’s not in use.
Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance reminds you to keep a close eye on your kids, especially when a pool is close by. Supervise small children wherever they can find water as children can drown in as little as an inch of water. Remember to instruct babysitters about the hazards of swimming pools and let them know about protective devices in the home such as door alarms and locks. Let’s make this a summer of fun-filled memories and not tragic ones.
For more information on preventing child drownings and detailed barrier recommendations, call the CPSC’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-638-2772 or visit http://www.cpsc.gov.