Before You Make a Splash, Get the Facts

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Take measures to ensure your family enjoys the water safely

little girl swimmingSchool is out, hot Texas temps are here, and children are ready to make a splash. Before kids go cannonballing into the water, parents should equip themselves and their children with the necessary precautions to ensure a fun and safe experience.

Swimming is the most popular summer activity, but all the hoopla can turn to tragedy in a matter of seconds. Statistics from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that from 2005-2014 there were an average of 3,536 non-boating-related accidental drownings annually in the U.S. That’s about ten deaths per day.

In Texas alone, thirty seven kids have died in drowning accidents this year—nearly half of last year’s total of 75, according to numbers from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Young children at greatest risk

About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger, making drowning the leading cause of injury-related death among children between one and four years old.

“Childhood drownings happen far too often and can almost always be prevented,” said Dr. Eric Higginbotham, MD, medical director of the emergency department at Dell Children’s Medical Center. “It’s heartbreaking when this happens. I can’t stress enough how necessary it is to stay vigilant and keep your kids within arm’s reach.”

Drowning can happen in all levels of water

Due to their proximity and accessibility, backyard and apartment pools are typically the most dangerous for children, but drowning can occur in any amount of water—from bathtubs and inflatable kiddie pools to ponds, lakes and other natural bodies of water.

“You might not think of your child’s baby pool or bathtub as dangerous, but drownings can easily happen anywhere,” Higginbotham said. “For home pools, swimming lessons are a great idea. It’s also wise for parents to set pool rules and communicate those regularly with their kids.”

Four-sided fencing around residential pools with a properly working latch creates a barrier between the pool and inquisitive young children.  Furthermore, parents should be sure doors leading outside of the home to the pool area are properly closed and locked.

Drowning can happen in seconds

Higginbotham says it’s critical parents give children their full attention when playing in or around water.

“It doesn’t take long at all for someone to drown,” he said. “It’s quick and quiet, despite what the movies show.”

If a caregiver needs to grab a towel or tend to another child, make sure another adult is actively watching to prevent a gap in supervision.

Know how to prevent drowning

Higginbotham urges that with proper education, supervision and a bit of caution, drowning can usually be prevented. Safe Kids Worldwide and Safe Kids Austin, led by Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, provides these top water safety tips:

  • Don’t leave kids alone in or around water
  • Be 100 percent attentive
  • Remove water from tubs and buckets after use
  • Close lids and doors
  • Remove toys and other items from pools
  • Learn CPR
  • Wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard while on boats, around open bodies of water or when doing water sports

Even with the best preventative measures, accidents can happen

  • Know where rescue devices such as poles, rescue tubes and first aid kits are located.
  • Keep a cell phone on hand and know when and how to call 911 for help.
  • Administer CPR until emergency assistance arrives.

Dell Children’s is the only Pediatric Level I Trauma Center in Central Texas. Learn more about the Level I difference.