Fort Worth, Texas,
24
June
2016

Preventable tragedy: Pool season begins with deaths

How to prevent another tragic summer

No one at Cook Children's wants a repeat of last year's tragic summer, with 55 near drownings and four deaths. During the month of June, the Trauma department accounted for nearly a non-fatal drowning a day with 29 total. 

Things were so bad that Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price called a press conference pleading for city-wide support of drowning prevention measures and asking parents to supervise their kids at all times. 

And yet, it's happening again. Cook Children's has seen 15 near drownings and two fatal drownings already in the month of June. 

At the press conference a year ago, Denise Doherty, an RN and director of Emergency Services at Cook Children's, said her staff was "drained and heart broken" from the number of children and patients affected by this "very preventable tragedy."

"It has to stop," Doherty said. "Can you imagine being a parent, sitting in the ED waiting room, praying that the life of someone you love so dearly is spared, especially since it was something that didn't have to happen? No parent wants to be saddled with that guilt. I think it's also appropriate for me to say that no one is immune, and yes, it can happen to you. Cook Children's has witnessed this in a very intimate way, even our own medical community has experienced this heartbreak."

But the good news is that we can prevent our kids from drowning. Here are 9 tips that if we all truly followed, could make for a safe summer for our kids:

1. Get in the water. Be in arms reach of your child. Don't let your child out of your sight and be there to grab your children out of the water at any sign of trouble.

2. 100 percent adult supervision at all times. Be active in the pool with the children or watch like a lifeguard. Don't take your eyes off of your child. If you aren't in the water, be sure to watch your kids at all times. Don't spend time on your smartphone, talking to friends or walking away for even a moment. Do have a phone nearby in case of an emergency. But that's the only time anyone should be using one.

3. Watch them until they are safe and inside. Monitoring your kids includes accounting for everyone who had been in the water all the way to the house or apartment. Once you are inside, count again and make sure all the kids are safe and inside.

4. Be a water watcher. If you are at a party with a group of children, take 15-minute shifts watching the kids. Count heads above water and look for any that are motionless on the bottom of the pool. Give your undivided while you are the water watcher. Stay sober and be alert. You can't have a more important responsibility.

5. Life jackets. Not just any flotation device will do. Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved. Check the tag to say so. Remember that life jackets aren't just for the lake, but for the swimming pool too.

6. Swim lessons. Mom and dad, you need to know how to swim. If you don't know, take lessons with your child. Make sure your child knows how to swim too. If they are in the pool, they need to know how to get to safety. But this is only a layer of protection and doesn't take away from the fact that you need to be in arm's reach.

7. Know CPR. Local CPR lessons are given in your area. A quick Google search should help you find a class.

8. Use pool and child alarms to alert you if your child gets in the water without you.

9. Isolate your pool from the rest of your backyard with a permanent, four-sided fence with self-latching gates to prevent kids from accessing the pool area without an adult.

Previous articles on this topic:

For more information

Learn more about drowning prevention and water safety here. This page gives helpful information on keeping your kids safe during swim season, including proper fit for life jackets, pool safety videos and fences/alarms information.

 

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photo:Jeff Calaway
Jeff Calaway
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