Even with Texas’ mild weather, few would head out onto the lake to swim or ski during the last few days of December. But that doesn’t mean children will not be intrigued by the cold-weather changes in the lake, river, or even a backyard pool during the holiday season.
But, lakes and rivers are not the only water concern during the holiday season. Your trip to visit family or friends out of town could include a stay in one of the many hotels that now offer indoor heated pools and hot tubs.
“Drowning is not like it is in cartoons or the movies,” said Alexandra Houton, project specialist for Safe Kids Tarrant County. “It’s sudden, and it’s silent. In the time it takes to read and answer a text message, a child can slip under the water.” Houton added that drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of death for children age 1 – 14 years.
Houton works with the Center for Children’s Health led by Cook Children’s. The organization partners with local communities on numerous programs including the “Lifeguard your Child campaign.” The program stresses the importance of providing layers of protection around water for children’s safety, both indoors and out, with each layer providing an additional protection for children.
The Cook’s Children’s program mirrors the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s (NDPA), “layers of protection” or one way to classify the majority of strategies available to prevent childhood drownings. Some of these layers include:
- Adult supervision around water, but also around protected water hazards, even such things as ice chests, aquariums or even buckets filled with water.
- Four-sided fencing around homes with pools, spas or docks
- Pool or spa covers
- Alarms – such as security systems, gate alarms or even water surface alarms that sound when motion is detected on the surface of a pool.
- U.S. Coast Guard Approved Life jackets, and
- Swimming and CPR lessons
“Just because your child knows how to swim doesn’t make them drowning-proof,” said Houton. Accidents happen. All children require supervision while near water of any type, including bathtubs.”
So far this year, Cooks Children’s Hospital treated 93 children under the age of 13 for drowning events, 13 resulted in a child’s death; 14 of the events occurred in a bathtub. Though most people think of the term drowning as being a fatal event, Cook Children’s supports the definition of drowning from the World Health Organization as “the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid.” According to Houton, all 93 children treated at Cook were drowning victims.
Safeguard your family from the potential of child drowning this holiday season. The NDPA stresses to ensure your “layers of protection” are in place.
“Although adult supervision and fencing are two key layers of protection against child drowning, not even the most diligent caregiver can have their eyes on a child 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week and barriers can be breached.” They add that each additional layer or strategy beyond the first could be the one that saves a life. Use as many as possible at all times.