Two recently reported drownings of young children serve as a reminder about the importance of adult supervision and drowning prevention measures. The Southern Nevada Health District reminds everyone that constant adult supervision is the best protection against childhood drowning.
In 2009, there have been 30 near-drowning incidents and five drownings, all of which involved children aged 4 years old or younger. In 2008, approximately 80 percent of drowning or near-drowning victims were children aged 4 years old or younger.
“It is very important that children are constantly supervised when they have access to any water source such as a pool, spa or bathtub,” said Dr. Lawrence Sands, chief health officer of the Southern Nevada Health District. The health district urges parents and caregivers to practice the ABCDs of drowning prevention:
* Adult supervision. It is recommended that a parent is within arm’s length when children are in a pool, bathtub or other water sources.
* Barriers to the pool, such as fences or gate alarms.
* Classes, such as swimming and CPR courses.
* Devices such as personal flotation devices, life jackets and rescue tools.
Drowning is a silent killer and a majority of deaths occur in a pool or spa; however, any amount of water can pose a hazard, including a bathtub. In just 10 seconds, or the time it takes to grab a towel, a small child can become submerged and in the two minutes it can take to answer the telephone, a child can lose consciousness.
Twenty percent of near-drowning accidents that require hospitalization result in severe and permanent disability. A majority of these accidents occur between 4 and 7 p.m. when one or both parents are at home to supervise their children. Oftentimes, the victim was last seen in the house or away from the pool area.
In addition to supervision, experts recommend “layers of protection.” A nonclimbable 5-foot fence that separates a pool or spa from the residence should be installed and openings should not be more than 4 inches wide so children cannot squeeze through the spaces. Gates should be self-latching and never left unlocked. Other recommended precautions include power-operated pool safety covers, rescue equipment and CPR training. While these safeguards are important, the health district stresses that these precautions should not be used as a substitute for constant supervision.
For information, contact the Southern Nevada Health District at 759-1000 or visit www.SouthernNevadaHealthDistrict.org.