Recent Drowning Events Raise Concern With Dr. Crocker June 22, 2012

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Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas has recently seen an uptick in drowning events. As an incident where the child is submersed underwater and has respiratory impairment following the incident. Some of the near drownings actually result in permanent brain injuries death and impairment to the child. Annually, Dell Children's sees about 50 children under the age of 16 who have experienced a near drowning event.

Dr. Pat Crocker, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Dell Children's and Tareka Wheeler, Program Coordinator for Safe Kids Austin, recently spoke about the recent events and what parents can do to keep their kids safe this summer.

Consider these facts concerning drowning from SAFE KIDS USA:

  • When a child is submerged two minutes in water, he/she loses consciousness.
  • Irreversible brain damage sets in after four to six minutes of water submersion.
  • Most children die if they are found after 10 minutes in the water.

To help keep kids safe this pool season, Safe Kids USA recommends these precautions:

  • If you have a pool or spa, or if your child visits a home that has a pool or spa, it should be surrounded on all four sides by a fence at least five feet high with gates that close and latch automatically. Studies estimate that this type of isolation fencing could prevent 50 percent to 90 percent of child drownings in residential pools.

  • A pool or spa should be equipped with an anti-entrapment drain cover and a safety vacuum release system to prevent children from being caught in the suction of the drain. The powerful suction forces can trap a child underwater or cause internal injuries.

  • Don't leave toys in or near the pool, where they could attract unsupervised kids. For extra protection, consider a pool alarm and alarms on the doors, windows and gates leading to the pool.

  • Enroll your kids in swimming lessons around age 4, but don't assume swimming lessons make your child drownproof. There is no substitute for active supervision.

  • Remember: inflatable swimming toys such as water wings and noodles are not flotation devices and do not prevent drowning.

  • Learn infant and child CPR. In less than two hours, you can learn effective interventions that can give a fighting chance to a child whose breathing and heartbeat have stopped. Contact your local hospital or Red Cross affiliate for information about local CPR classes.

  • Keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers by the pool.

  • These guidelines apply to inflatable and portable pools, not just in-ground pools. A child can drown in just an inch of water. Kiddie pools should be emptied and stored out of reach when not in use.

Adolescent children (12 to 18 years of age)

Although older children are more likely to know how to swim, they are at risk for drowning due to overestimation of their skills, unawareness of water currents or water depth, and when consuming alcohol or using drugs. To protect your adolescent from drowning, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers the following tips:

  • Insist that your adolescent always swim with a buddy.

  • Encourage your adolescent to take swimming, diving, and water safety or rescue classes to give him/her the skills needed to swim and dive safely. These classes may also prevent your adolescent from acting recklessly.

  • Teach your adolescent never to swim or dive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Make sure your adolescent checks the depth of the water before diving.

Additional Information

Central Texas - American Red Cross - Classes in swimming lessons, life guarding, basic water rescue and CPR ( class schedule )

City of Austin Pool Schedule

City of Austin Swimming Lessons

Swim Safe for Austin Kids


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