New research shows that there is a 6-fold increased risk for drowning when at the pool of a friend or relative.* Something about being at the home of a friend or relative may change the way we supervise our children. In the Florida study, 79% of patients that were seen in an ER for drowning accidents were at a home pool.
We also know that young children under age 5 drown more in home swimming pools than anywhere else. Anyone can drown in any body of water. But more than anything else I can say, know that children are more vulnerable to drowning due to their size, maturity level, insatiable curiosity, swimming skill level, familiarity with water, and communication skills. Babies and children can drown in any collection of water over 2 inches deep. The Florida research also shows that where we are and who we’re around while swimming may change levels of supervision and distraction.
Plan Ahead When Children Swim in Pools:
- Never let anyone swim alone.
- When swimming, young children need constant eyes-on, non-distracted supervision. Put down the book, put down the cell phone, and put down the alcohol. As best you can, focus only on your children. There are too many tragic stories of quick phone calls and book chapters that have left children unprotected. If you’re at a party, designate one adult to provide constant supervision.
- Know about safety equipment present at the pool, watch for risks from entrapment around drains, pool covers and pool equipment, and have a phone nearby. Call 911 immediately if you’re concerned about a potential drowning accident — seconds matter.
- Enroll your children in swimming lessons and update their skills every single year. However, never trust swimming lessons to be protective for drowning. Your supervision is paramount. I’ll post more on this next week.
Drowning injuries and deaths are preventable but often silent and quick. Young children under age 5 drown more than any other group, but nearly 1000 children die annually from drowning.
Resources on Drowning Prevention
- Drowning Prevention Fact Sheet
- Water Safety Tips For Families
- Comprehensive Hand-out on Water Safety
- Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning
*When I say “drowning victims” in the video, I didn’t mean to imply all those patients in the study died. Of the 100 study subjects with drowning accidents, only 10% had life-ending drowning accidents. Fortunately, 90% of the patients that presented to the ER after a drowning accident survived and had full neurologic recovery.
Excellent spot, Doc. Another excellent resource for drowning prevention is the National Drowning Prevention Alliance – at NDPA dot ORG
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Thanks, Mario. You’re the one who taught me about the silence and that “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning” in your incredible piece:
I’m so thankful for your insight and share it with my patients daily.
Sue Nelson says
Seattle Mama Doc
We need more of you to spread the wonderful message. I will be sharing with USA Swimming Foundation “Saving Lives/ Building Champions.
Keep sending the message about “supervision”
NDPA Vice President