Independence Day is upon us. Many of us will celebrate at the lake or by spending time at the neighborhood pool, or in the family pool.
Sadly, almost daily we hear reports of the drowning deaths of young children in north Texas; and, traditionally the period of June 30-July 6 sees an increase in these tragedies.
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among Texas children, according to the State Child Fatality Review Team Committee. Every year, up to 100 children die from drowning in Texas and an estimated four times that number receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Many who survive suffer irreversible brain damage. Children ages one to four years have the highest drowning fatality rates and account for 45% of all child drowning deaths.
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, in 2011 Texas recorded a total of 90 deaths of children and youth between the ages of one and 17 years. The majority of these deaths occurred between May and August, and 60% involved children 1-4 years old. More than 50% occurred in swimming pools, with 10% drowning in lakes and 10% drowning in bathtubs. Unfortunately, this is a pattern seen from year to year.
“Never leave a child unsupervised around water, inside or outside the house. It only takes moments for a child to drown and it can occur in as little as one inch of water,” commented Stacie Durham, Public Information Officer for McKinney Fire Department. “Drowning happens quickly and silently. An individual loses consciousness within two minutes of submersion, and may suffer irreversible brain damage within four to six minutes. Parents and other caregivers need to know the right steps to protect children, who are at highest risk of drowning.”
The following tips may save a life:
--Watch kids of all ages around water at all times. Toddlers are inquisitive and attracted to water. Most toddlers who drown are being supervised by one or more adults when the accident occurs. Always have a designated “water watcher."
--Never leave children alone near water inside or outside the house, including pools, lakes, bathtubs, aquariums, mop buckets, ice chests or even toilets. Keep bathroom doors closed and secure toilet lids with locks.
--Never turn your back on an infant in a bath for even a moment. Make sure to have what you need before you start and always take the baby with you if you must step away. Make sure that all caregivers understand that all children require constant supervision near water.
--Make sure that toddlers can’t slip out of the house through pet doors or unlocked doors and get to pools or hot tubs. If a child is missing, look in the pool or spa first.
--Properly install and maintain a fence at least four feet high surrounding all sides of the pool, along with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Use a gate latch that can be locked with a key and remember to lock the gate when the pool is not in use. Place alarms on all doors and windows with access to the pool area.
--Store water toys away from the water when not in use so they don’t attract a small child. Toddlers move quickly and unpredictably, and are drawn by brightly colored objects and other “toys.” Don’t assume children of any age will use good judgment and caution around water.
--Know how to swim. Teach your children to swim. Keep any child who doesn’t know how to swim within arms reach at all times. Be ready for emergencies. Keep a telephone within reach at all times and learn CPR.
--Find out if your child’s friends or neighbors have home pools.
As of June 25, a total of 29 children under 15 years of age have died in 2012 in Texas as a result of accidental drowning. “Along with watching professional fireworks shows, spending time in the pool or at the lake is a traditional July 4th activity. The McKinney Fire Department wants everyone to have a safe and enjoyable holiday by remembering to ‘Pool Safely.’ You never know which simple safety step will save a life,” observed Durham.
For this and additional life safety tips and information visit www.mckinneyfire.org or call 972-547-2893.