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Protect Your Children From Drowning

swimming pool gate

None of us think it will happen to us or our kids, but it does. For whatever reason, Austin is seeing an increase in child drownings the last few years. Yesterday, officials from Dell Children’s Medical Center warned about the alarming increase in child drowning injuries. In 2007, there were two child drowning deaths in Travis County. In 2008, six children drowned, and already this year there have been four drowning deaths (two swimming pool related and two in bathtubs). Non-fatal drownings, which often result in head injuries, are also on the rise.

The hospital warned that two of the issues with drowning injuries are that it happens so fast and that there is no warning. A child can drown in less than two minutes, and there is usually no screaming or splashing to warn others about the problem.

The sad thing is that most of these deaths and injuries are preventable with proper planning and oversight. To reduce pool related drownings, the Drowning Prevention Foundation of California, one of the leading organizations working to reduce drownings, has these tips:

* Never leave a child alone near water, even for a few seconds. Don’t leave to answer the phone or the doorbell, to go to the bathroom, or to attend to another child.
* Keep a constant eye on young children in or near any body of water (including pools, wading pools and bathtubs). If you are at a gathering, designate an adult to watch children. This is true even if your child has had swim lessons. Approximately 25% of all child drowning victims have had swim lessons.
* Have proper gates and protection devices around private pools.

Similarly, the Foundation has a separate set of tips to prevent bathtub drownings:

* Never rely on bath rings or seats to keep your baby safe. Three of the most common fact patterns for infant drownings are (1) the suction cups on the device release, allowing the device to tip over with the baby’s face in the water; (2) the baby slips between the legs of the bath ring and becomes trapped under water; and (3) the baby climbs out of the product and drowns.
* Never leave a child alone in the bathtub or near any toilet.
* Only fill the tub with enough water to cover the infant’s legs. A child can drown in as little as one inch of water.
* Remember that a baby can drown in two minutes or less.
* Remember that drowning is a silent killer; your child will not cry out.

Like I said earlier, none of us think it will happen to us, but it can. Child drownings are a real danger, and taking heed of the above warnings can go a long way to protecting our kids.

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