Fort Worth, Texas,
11:57 AM

10 Ways to Protect Your Child From Drowning at a Friend’s House

Even though she talks about water safety on a daily basis, Dana Walraven still gasps at the tragic news of U.S. Olympic skier Bode Miller’s 19-month-old daughter’s death. Media outlets report the little girl drowned in a neighbor’s pool over the weekend.

Walraven’s not surprised by the news, just saddened.

She’s the Child Safety manager at Cook Children’s and hopes that parents remember that drowning deaths can occur to anyone at any time.

When taking children to a neighbor or friend’s home with a pool, Walraven encourages parents to take a few extra steps to protect their kids.

“Before you go to someone’s house, make sure there is a plan in place that the children in the water will be watched at all times,” Walraven said. “You don’t have to be pushy about it, but let people know what you’ve seen in the news and you want to make sure all the kids are safe.”

Through her experience, Walraven has learned many safety tips from mistakes she has seen that led to drownings. She gives the following advice if you are taking your child to a friend or neighbor’s house:

  1. Have a card with a phone number and address handy. In this day and age of typing in an address and being led to someone’s house, you may not know the address off the top of your head. Make sure the address is accessible on a table and near a phone in case you have to call 911.

  2. Make sure adults are watching the kids. Kids can drown in only a matter of seconds. Make sure parents know they are watching the kids and that the adult in that situation is focusing on all the kids. They are expected to stay sober and focused during their shifts, usually it should be about 15 minutes to stay fresh.

  3. Remember we are talking adults and not teens. Walraven said the designated Water Watcher role is one for a grownup. “This isn’t a job for kids, even older children,” Walraven said. “Many teens can be easily distracted and they may not have the judgment skills to handle the job. If there’s a problem in the pool, a child may have trouble getting another child out of the pool. And this is not a responsibility for a young person. A drowning, even if it’s not fatal, could scar a child for life if something happened while he or she was in charge.”

  4. Get a head count of all the kids entering the pool and getting out of the water so you won’t forget anyone.

  5. Create formal scheduling times on which adult will be watching the pool. For a larger pool, you may need more than one adult. If you are watching the pool alone, get all the kids out of the pool if you need to take a break.

  6. Plan breaks. Get the kids out of the water for snack time or a bathroom break. Don’t let one child stay behind. Often times that’s when the adults get distracted and forgets about the one child who wants to stay in the water a little longer.

  7. Limit any blow-up toys, furniture or beverage coolers that may block your line of sight and the water.

  8. Once out of the pool, create barriers for your child. “That’s when self-latching gates on pool fencing or high-reaching locks and sensors on doors, even child wrist alarms become important,” Walraven said. “These are helpful in case a child goes back to the pool without you knowing.”

  9. Set a recurring alarm. Set a recurring alarm on your phone that will interrupt music. There are free interval timer apps available for various mobile devices. You can set up intervals of any lengths (i.e. 15 minutes). At the end of each interval the music is interrupted with an alarm, signifying the next adult taking over watching the kids (Water Watcher).

  10. Lifeguard your child all the way to the house. When it’s time for everyone to get out of the pool, escort all the kids inside the home or apartment. Count all the kids and make sure everyone is safe and secure.

Already this year, seven children have fatally drowned after being rushed to Cook Children’s (six were in pools). If this trend continues, 2018 is likely to become the deadliest year in recent history for drowning patients at Cook Children’s.

For more information on how to implement this advice, please visit Cook Children’s Water Safety website.

Comments 1 - 1 (1)
Thank you for your message. It will be posted after approval.
Robin Richardson
This is all very good information to be implemented. I would like to see the Infant survivals swim classes be more affordable to families.