The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that drowning is the third leading cause of involuntary death with more than 320,000 deaths per year worldwide.
Recently we have published the article about TOP 20 devices to prevent child drowning. In the article we have described three main categories of anti-drowning devices for children, their principle of operation and disadvantages.
It is highly stressed, however, that any anti-drowning device is a swimming aid product only and cannot be used as a life-saving measure.
Children require a constant supervision by adults, especially near the water.
Guide for parents to ensure a child’s safety around water (short overview)
1. Parents’ knowledge about Water safety for kids
by Kathryn Sibley Horton, who describes around the house water safety tips: in a bathroom, backyard water and home pool: https://www.getparentingtips.com/toddlers/safety/water-safety-for-kids/
2. How to keep children safe around water
by Penny Larsen, who describes water safety around home, at the local pool, at rivers, lakes and dams, and at the beach: https://education.abc.net.au/newsandarticles/blog/-/b/3335848/how-to-keep-children-safe-around-water
3. Learning first aid in case of an emergency situation:
How to do the primarily survey by the St John Ambulance: https://www.sja.org.uk/get-advice/first-aid-advice/how-to/how-to-do-the-primary-survey/
4. Learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), or mouth-to-mouth-resuscitation in case of an emergency situation
Steps of first aid and CPR by the St John Ambulance: https://www.sja.org.uk/get-advice/first-aid-advice/breathing-difficulties/child-drowning/
5. Educate your children about safe behavior around the water
It requires long-term and constant attention of adults in teaching children safe behavior around the water.
Playful educational cartoon episodes based on WHALE tales are prepared by American Red Cross to help parents in educating their children about water safety: https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety/water-safety-for-kids.html
This was a quick overview, and for those who feel the need to learn more, just continue reading:)
Facts and statistics about child drowning
Summer is a high season for child drownings in open body waters (sea, lake, garden pond) and/or indoor facilities (backyard pool, bathtub). In fact, for 1-4 years toddles any amount of water could be the risky zone, even a bucket, pool drain, or a rice field as in China.
Low-income and middle-income countries are known to have the majority (98%) of child drowning deaths, where drowning events happen in open bodies of water like sea. In high-income countries, swimming pools are the main place where drowning events involving children happen. More information on WHO page Children and drowning.
It goes without saying that parents take overall responsibility for their children. If talking about water, this includes water safety tips, basic knowledge of actions in the case of emergency for parents and educational element for children.
Do parents have a basic knowledge to save the child from drowning?
According to a local survey of 42 parents raising children under the age of 14, the majority (82%) of whom were women. As many as 65% of those surveyed would rescue a drowning child unprofessionally, that is, without a basic knowledge of the subject, not attending CPR courses, and not being prepared to respond appropriately to a stressful situation.
For example, asked about the exact actions when a child drowning in the water is detected, one woman interviewed would pull a child out of the water by the hair, believing that the rescue process is completed by this.
Another woman said honestly that if it were her child, she would probably freeze in shock, and if it was not her, she would try to take “some action”.
What about you?
For how long a child could stay without breathing?
The majority of parents would believe that the main task is to look after their toddlers when near the water. But who does, in fact, know how exactly to provide first-aid to a child in case of an emergency?
It is way more reasonable to take your time and read articles like this right now, because seconds count under stressful situation and there are no time to search on internet for the keywords then.
When it comes to summer time and a child’s safety near the water, just a few minutes can be crucial to avoid a tragedy. In case of drowning, not all victims die.
As it described in the CHOH Health article Oxygen Deprivation from Near-Drowning Can Lead to Brain Damage, if breathing is not restored in less than 5 minutes, brain damage is imminent. Up to 20 percent of rescued children are left with severe, permanent neurological disabilities.
To be precise, the brain can go without oxygen without a harm for quite a short time.
As according to SpinalCord.com, at the 1 minute mark, brain cells begin dying at 3 minutes, neurons suffer more extensive damage, and lasting brain damage becomes more likely at 5 minutes, death becomes imminent at 10 minutes, even if the brain remains alive, a coma and lasting brain damage are almost inevitable.
It may become obvious that grabbing a phone to learn about first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), or mouth-to-mouth-resuscitation, in the panic, stressful situation like child’s drowning, may cost a life.
It seems way more wisely to spend 10-15 minutes to learn the basics about a proper rescue plan (see Guide for parents to ensure a child’s safety around water above) in a calm environment right now, rather than to feel helplessness and hopelessness in a case of emergency.
Child’s (human’s) connection to water
In his book “Water, Birth and Sexuality, a French surgeon and obstetrician Michel Odent describes our, humans’ primeval connection to water. He describes the connection between water and religion, shows examples of water as a mystery, as a symbol and as the possible primeval home of a human being.
A human being, a new-born, comes into this world from the environment of foetal liquids – an aquatic environment.
Toddlers, with some exceptions, of course, have an irresistible pull towards any source of water, would it be a river bank or a simple water puddle in the backyard.
Very often, if not supervised by the adults, it may cost a child’s life. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, in 2004 drowning resulted in over 175 000 deaths in children and youth under 19 years old.
It seems some parents look after their children anyhow and succeed, while others put all their efforts and still fail.
No need to look after others, because people tend to follow an illusion of someone’s wealth and success, while the real efforts are not usually noticed as facts.
The main engine which strengthens the family and keeps all the family safe is always LOVE.
There are numerous cases when siblings have saved their smaller sisters and brothers from a potential risk of drowning, falling from the stairs or even from a ravine. However, these cases should be treated as cases of luck, because adults still may not put a responsibility from themselves to toddlers who are just a few years older than the youngest kids in a family.
Self-education, as well as the education of children about safety around the water, even if that is just a basic knowledge, may bring a life-saving value.
Only one case may be enough when counting cases of a tragedy, and oppositely, we never count the number of successful cases.
This article does not contain affiliate links. This article is not sponsored. It is written for educational and informational purposes only.
© Dr. Alisa Palatronis, 2021