"It was just a few seconds." That's the phrase heard too often by firefighters when it comes to water related incidents in Maricopa County. Unfortunately, it only takes a few seconds for a child to drown. Here's a scary statistic. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children under the age of 5 in Arizona, California and Florida.
Most of these drowning cases occur in the Vitim's backyard swimming pool. However, it is common for young children to drown in buckets, bathtubs, toilets, dog water bowls, canals and ponds. The reason: small children are "top heavy" and don't have the upper body strength to pull themselves out of these dangerous situations. Depending on the length of time a child is left drowning, could result from minor to severe brain damage, and worst case scenario, death.
If you're missing your child, always check the pool first, even if access is thought to be restricted before looking elsewhere.
Drownings and near drownings can be prevented. The tips listed below come from the Phoenix Fire Department.
Lock All Doors
Keep in mind that if your home is equipped with an alarm system that alerts you when the perimeter doors are opened; try installing additional alarms on the doors used most often to the pool area for safety.
Sliding glass doors should be locked at the top in addition to other locks. In two-thirds of drowning cases studied, sliding glass doors were opened by a toddler.
Floating pool alarm devices
There are devices that will sound an alarm when the pool surface has been disturbed. These devices are fairly inexpensive (around $100). The drawback is if a child uses the steps and walks into the pool, the water disturbance will not be great enough to sound the alarm. However, this device is an added layer of protection and is better than nothing since the device will detect accidental falls.
Train your toddler
Children as young as six-months old can be taught to float on their back and find a wall or steps to get out of the pool. This is an introductory training class to water and is not intended to teach children to swim. A re-introductory class is usually needed every year until the child is 3-years-old. This can be relearned in just a few days.
Don't answer the telephone
If you do go inside, bring your child with you. Never leave the pool area unattended. Numerous drowning incidents are associated with answering a phone in the house while the pool was in use by children.
Kids are attracted to toys
Never leave any kind of object in your pool that could attract your child. Children who have a fear of water may not think twice about it when in pursuit of their favorite toy that has been left in the middle of the pool. In addition, keep platforms such as tables and chairs away from your pool fences. Children will use these to climb over the barriers and enter the pool area.
Don't allow the pool area to be used as a play area. Isolating the pool area to be used for swimming only can be used in drowning prevention.
Water Safety Hotline: 602-534-POOL (7665)
Copyright 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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