4 Children Treated at Cook Children's for Drownings Last Week
7 total drownings in March, including 2 deaths
The month of March proved something sadly true – a child can drown at any time of the year and in any place where there is water.
Last week, Cook Children’s medical staff treated four children for drowning-related accidents with ages ranging from 18 months to 6 years old. The near drownings took place at a variety of locations, including a recreation center, a community center, a home pool and a bathtub.
For the month, seven kids, ranging from 6 weeks to 6 years, were seen for drowning at the medical center. Two children died after drowning in bathtubs.
“The events of this month is a tragic reminder that we don’t have a drowning season in Texas,” said Ben Olsson, M.D., a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit physician at Cook Children’s. “Drownings don’t just take place in the summer at a pool or a lake. The most important thing for parents to remember is that when you are somewhere near water, you can’t take your eyes off your child. That’s the common theme, regardless if it’s a pool, lake or bathtub. Children need adult supervision. We say it all the time at Cook Children’s, lifeguard your child. Don’t take your eyes off of your child when they are around or in the water.”
Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 4, and the second leading cause of death for kids 1-14 in Texas.
Cook Children’s experts recommend the following tips to protect kids from drowning:
1. Wear life vests with U.S. Coast Guard-approved labels. If your child’s lifejacket doesn’t say “US Coast Guard Approved” or “USCG Approved,” you can assume it’s not safe. Always check the label. Any items filled with air (arm floaties, rafts, etc.) are considered toys and not a life-saving device. And as your child grows, the lifejacket needs to meet their new weight. Get a new lifejacket if there are rips and tears or fraying of the straps.
2. Take family CPR lessons. Learning CPR can be the difference between life and death while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive. Check your local Red Cross and YMCA for classes.
3. Insist on adult, non-distracted Water Watchers. Children drown silently, so designate a Water Watcher to watch children in and around all water. A Water Watcher Tag is used to designate responsible adults to watch the water when you have a party at the pool, lake or beach. At social gatherings, 10-15 minute shifts are recommended for Water Watchers. During that time, Water Watchers should not be distracted by conversations, cell phones, reading, etc. Always check the pool first for missing kids. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request your Water Watcher tags.
4. Invest in swim lessons. Drownings and near drownings are eight times more likely to happen to children who don’t know how to swim or are being supervised by adults who don’t know how to swim. Check out this list of swim lesson providers in the Tarrant County area. If you are not in Tarrant County, contact your local YMCA, Red Cross or parks and recreation center for information in your area.
5. Update pool drains and cleaning systems. Children should stay away from pool drains and other cleaning equipment as they have powerful suction that can pull them down to the bottom of the pool. Swimsuit straps, hair and other items can easily get caught. There are certain safety drain covers that can prevent this from happening.
Three bathtub drownings occurred in March, with two resulting in death. Follow these tips to keep your child safe during bath time:
- Always ensure an adult stays at the side of the tub, in reach of the child. This is too big of a responsibility for brothers or sisters.
- Avoid multi-tasking. This is not the time to prepare dinner, fold laundry or any other housekeeping tasks.
- Ignore distractions like the doorbell or phone calls.
- If you do have to leave during bath time, wrap the child in a towel and take them with you.
- Be prepared. Keep a towel and bath supplies close at hand, so you don't have to leave during bath time.
- Consider bath time as bonding time to relax with your baby or toddler. Bath toys like foam letters, animals that shoot water and waterproof books are a way to make bath tub more fun and teach them new things at the same time!
- Safe proof your home to prevent young children from accessing the bathroom without an adult.
- Drain the tub after each use.