So far in May, one child has died from drowning, while five others were seen at Cook Children’s Medical Center for near-drownings. The ages of the children ranged from 1 year to 9 years old. The drownings all occurred in pools.
“Unfortunately, we had a busy weekend with drownings and we aren’t even at Memorial Day,” said Sharon Evans, trauma injury prevention outreach coordinator at Cook Children’s.
Last year, eight kids were seen at Cook Children’s for drowning during the entire month of May; none was fatal.
As we head into the summer, Cook Children’s is once again urging parents to “Lifeguard Your Child.”
The focus is on parents never taking their eyes off their children while they are swimming, and that includes until they are safely in the house or car.
“We’ve seen many cases where children removed their life vests and jumped back in the water,” said Magdalena Santillan, trauma injury prevention specialist at Cook Children’s. “Often, parents are getting ready to leave the pool and don’t realize their kids have jumped back in.”
Corwin Warmink, medical director of emergency services at Cook Children’s, calls drowning a “preventable tragedy.” In nearly nine out of 10 child drowning-related deaths, the parent or caregiver said the child had been with them in the house or pool within five minutes of the accident.
“Children should never be in water without adults watching them,” Warmink said. “If you have a toddler, that child shouldn’t be in water without what we call touch supervision. You need to be in arm’s length, and it’s not just pools. That includes bathtubs or any other container with water. I’ve seen kids drown in buckets. A child can drown in any water, even a few inches deep. Supervision isn’t, ‘Hey there’s six of us cooking hamburgers and text messaging.’ It means there’s someone who has the designated job to watch the children in the water.”
Kids can’t afford anything less than 100 percent adult supervision at the pool at all times. That means not taking your eyes off of a child while he or she is in the water. For many of us, that starts with putting away perhaps the greatest competition for a grownup’s attention — their phone.
“We understand the need for a phone at the pool, in case of emergencies, but those phones need to be put away until you leave the swimming area,” said Dana Walraven, community health outreach manager at Cook Children’s and Safe Kids Tarrant County Coordinator. “Parents should only be spending time watching their kids and not on the phone.”
The Swim Safe program is a resource to help prevent drownings.