Going Places child

Published on June 6th, 2017 | by SOMDParents


Child Drownings: Signs and Prevention

With summer recreation luring kids to the water, experts caution parents that one of the season’s favorite pastimes is also one of the most dangerous for children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental deaths in kids under the age of 15.

What’s more, nearly half of child drownings happen within 25 yards of an adult, and 10 percent of adults will witness the situation without even realizing the drowning is happening.

That’s because often times what most of us think of as the telltale signs of drowning – flailing arms and shouting for help – simply don’t happen, says Mario Vittone, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer, water safety expert and author of a recent article for Slate called “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning.”

He says there are two phases of drowning, the first being aquatic distress when people know they are in trouble and can wave or call for help. Then comes the instinctive drowning response.

“That’s when you’re no longer capable of maintaining your own airway and a lot of times the head will be back, the eyes will be glassed over and people will be looking toward safety or looking toward shore. They will be vertical in the water, very little or no supporting kick, mostly just arm movement and sort of a lateral splashing down of the water. A drowning person’s head may bob up and below the surface of the water repeatedly or it can happen entirely under water. This instinctive drowning response lasts 30 to 60 seconds at the most, so it’s imperative the person gets help immediately.

When it comes to supervision, especially for children, a lifeguard may not be enough. Lifeguards have to focus and if you’ve ever tried to focus for a solid 15 minutes, it’s really tough to do. If your child is not an extremely strong swimmer, Vittone recommends what’s called “touch supervision.” This means always being close enough to touch them.

Teaching kids they should never go in the water without an adult is also an important part of overall water safety. Adults should also teach children to stay away from pool drains and filters. Older kids and teens — even those who are proficient swimmers — should swim with a buddy. At pool parties or other group activities involving water, experts recommend having an adult designated “water watcher” at all times. This would require that a parent is always watching the water, doing nothing but watching the kids.

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