Drowning is the leading cause of preventable deaths in children ages 1-4 years old—it only takes a few seconds for a child to drown. As the summer season kicks off, Sarasota County encourages residents to be vigilant around water. Children can be victims of silent drowning since they do not make a splash sound when they fall into a pool.
While drowning can occur in the backyard swimming pool, it can also occur in buckets of water, bathtubs, toilets, dog water bowls, canals and ponds. Small children do not have the upper body strength to lift themselves out of these dangerous situations. Survival of a drowning incident can sometimes leave the child with permanent brain damage.
However, drowning can be prevented. Anyone involved with the supervision of children needs to be aware of the dangers associated with any standing water. Here are some tips offered by Sarasota County lifeguard manager Scott Montgomery.
- Know where children are at all times.
- Use an approved barrier to separate the pool from the house.
- Never allow children to be alone near any water source.
- Have lifesaving devices near the pool, such as a pole, hook or flotation device.
- Keep large objects such as tables, chairs, toys and ladders away from the pool fences.
- Post the 9-1-1 number on the phone.
- Store all toys outside of the pool area.
- If you leave the pool area, take the children with you.
- Always have someone responsible as a "designated water watcher" around the water source.
- Learn to swim and teach children to swim.
- Teach children water survival skills.
- Never swim alone, or while under the influence of alcohol or medications.
- Never swim when thunder or lightning is present.
- Never dive into unfamiliar or shallow bodies of water.
- Learn CPR. Hands only CPR can double or triple a patient's survival chance.
According to SAFE Kids Worldwide, two-thirds of fatal drownings occur each year between May and August.
"Too often when rescue crews arrive on scene they hear, 'it was just a few seconds.' All it takes for a child to drown is just a few seconds," says Montgomery.
For more information visit scgov.net or call Sarasota County Contact Center at (941) 861-5000.