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Summer is here and most kids will be spending time at the pool. While your kids enjoy these carefree summer days, water safety needs to be top of mind.
Nearly 1,000 kids die each year by drowning. It is the number two cause of accidental death in children ages 15 and under. What’s worse, in 10 percent of drownings, adults are nearby and will actually watch it happen without realizing it.
This is because drowning does not look like drowning. The waving, splashing and yelling you see on TV is rarely seen in real life. In fact, drowning is almost always deceptively quiet. It can happen quickly, even in the presence of lifeguards.
Frank Pia, Ph.D. coined the term the “instinctive drowning response,” to describe how an individual automatically behaves when drowning or close to drowning.
The drowning person may look like they are casually treading water and looking up at you. In reality, their mouth is alternately sinking above and below the water’s surface, but not long enough to breathe or call out for help. This struggle will only last from 20 to 60 seconds before the person goes under the water.
Since drowning does not look like you expect it to, how do you know if it’s happening?
One way to tell if someone is drowning is to ask them “are you okay?” If they can’t answer or if they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them.
Also, look for these signs of drowning:
Moms, remember that children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, go to them immediately and find out why!
There are other types of drowning that can happen out of the water — called dry and secondary drowning. Dry drowning, in which water is swallowed and enters the airway, usually happens within minutes after a child is pulled from the water. In secondary drowning, water actually enters the lungs, and signs of distress may not be apparent for hours or up to a day. Here are warning signs to look for:
It’s important to watch your child closely during the 24 hours after a close call in the water. Although dry and secondary drowning are uncommon — accounting for only about 1 to 2 percent of drowning incidents — if you notice any symptoms, get your child help right away. Don’t wait!
Here are some tips to keep your kids safe in and around water:
It’s up to you to keep your child safe in the water. Take the necessary precautions so you and your family enjoy a safe and fun summer.
Learn more about water safety from the American Red Cross.
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness offers a variety of children’s aquatics classes for all ages. Call 630-646-7940 to register or for more information.
Explore aquatics services at Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness.
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