Water safety always a priority

https://www.leefamilynews.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/PPC-web-black-child-swims-june-2022.jpgWater safety always a priority

By Dr. David Butler

How many times do we watch the news wondering how a child can drown in a crowded pool? The truth is drowning is quick and silent.

 After birth defects, drowning is the most common cause of death in ages 1 – 4.  It is the second leading cause of death by injury in ages 1-14. Many non-fatal drownings result in brain damage or disability. Children drown in 30 seconds and this can happen in 1 – 2 inches of water!  How can we prevent drowning?

Begin with supervision! Keep children at arm’s length and maintain constant touch. Use a life jacket in the pool. If you are with a group, assign an adult to be the “water watcher”. They should constantly monitor the water and not be distracted. Look for a child low in the water with their head back, mouth open, and barely out of the water. They are not using their legs but are using their arms trying to push out of the water. A drowning child does everything to keep their airway above water and can’t splash and scream for help!

For young children, create layers of protection around water. Make sure there is no direct access from the house to a body of water.  In drowning events under 4 years old, 70% of children were not expected to be near water.  Almost half were last seen in the house! 

Swim lessons are another way to prevent drowning.  In addition to learning swim stroke techniques, find classes that teach water survival skills, like propelling to the surface from underwater.

Drowning risks exist inside the house as well. Children have drowned in buckets, bathtubs, coolers, pet water bowls, and more. Toddlers can easily fall head first into these items but lack strength and skill to remove themselves.

Older kids are not exempt either. Teenagers 15-19 years old have the second highest fatal drowning rate.  They are more likely to overestimate their skills and underestimate danger.  Ensure your teenagers know how to swim and use life jackets, supervise them, and teach them what to do in an emergency.

The water is fun and exciting! Take the time to practice safety so it remains that way for your family.

David Butler, DO, FAAP is with Physicians’ Primary Care of Southwest Florida) with offices throughout Lee County.  www.ppcswfl.com

— familynews
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