It's 100 degrees and all I want to do is lounge in the pool. What else is a parent to do on these miserable DC summer days? Even though I've always been a swimmer and I'm used to water, I'm a little paranoid with my busy toddler these days. In talking with some of our emergency department doctors, I was a little surprised to learn that it's often hard to tell when a child is in danger. They don't typically flail their arms or scream help.
“It’s generally a silent process,” said Joanna Cohen, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Children’s National. “Parents need to watch their kids closely as they swim and make sure they are coming up for air.”
Daniel Fagbuyi, MD, adds another rule, “If you can’t reach out and touch your child, they are too far.”
- Infants (up to 1 year) can drown in just one inch of water. Most infant drownings occur in bathtubs.
o Never leave a young child alone in the bathtub, not even for a minute. Even supportive bathtub "rings" cannot keep your child from drowning.
o Empty any buckets or other containers with liquids.
o Keep bathroom doors closed and install childproof devices to keep your child out of the bathroom (such as doorknob covers).
o Keep toilets closed and/or use childproof toilet locks.
- Toddlers (1 – 5 years old) are at the highest risk for drowning in swimming pools.
o Watch preschoolers closely as they often wander away without parents being aware of their absence.
o Preschoolers can also easily slip into swimming pools without a sound.
- Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments
- Have a telephone close by when you or your family are using a pool or spa
- Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors
- Teach your child basic water safety tips
- Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim
- Learn to perform CPR on children and adults, and update those skills regularly
- Understand the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in a pool emergency