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Child Drownings Show Need for Pool Safety and Certified Lifeguards

Posted on 23 Jun 2017
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With summer approaching and temperature and humidity on the rise, the sparkling clear water of a shimmering swimming pool seems too refreshing to ignore.

But with the splash and giggles come danger. Three children — all under 5 — drowned this weekend in swimming pools, from Lakeland to Riverview. A fourth child, from Brooksville, remains hospitalized after being found at the bottom of a pool.

Responsible Swimming

All shared a common characteristic: An adult lost track of a child or left the child unattended for what seemed like just a moment.

That is all it takes say paramedics and those who teach child safety,

As the temperature goes up, so do the number of drownings. Last year, emergency responders in the Pinellas Park Fire Department were called out on a spate of drownings and water-related near-deaths.

That prompted a series of specialized training programs this week with an emphasis on treating near-drowning victims.

“When parents call us, that’s usually the end product. We need to be able to react quickly. Time is of the essence. Most of the time, the drowning victims are out of the pool and some kind of resuscitation has started. Seconds count.”

Heading out to fires and vehicle wrecks can be traumatic, but paramedics and firefighters who respond to back-yard pool drowning calls can be emotionally punched by it.

“A lot of time, it hits close to home,” Berkheimer said. “Many of our first responders have young children. They have to put those feelings aside and be able to do work quickly and efficiently.”

Training this week, in the middle of National Drowning Prevention month, helps them focus on doing their jobs, he said, often amid frantic parents and relatives, and their own emotions at the sight of a dead, or near dead child.

“The worst feeling in the world,” Berkheimer said, “is when you can’t do anything.”

Four children in the Tampa Bay region this weekend slipped under the pool water, the most recent occurring at the Preserve at Alafia Apartments in Riverview on Sunday evening.

Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies said the child was left unattended for about two minutes around the pool at the complex. When his mother returned, deputies said, she saw people gathered around the pool, yelling and pulling the 5 year-old boy out. Paramedics arrived and took him to the Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead around 8 p.m.

He became the third child to drown in the last three days. You can read more about this sad child drowning at the TBO story here.

Swimming Pool Safety Instructions

  Supervise. Designate a responsible adult to watch young children swimming or playing in or around water. Supervisors of preschool children should be close enough to reach the child at all times. Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, supervising adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity, such as reading, playing cards or even talking on the phone.

Learn to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, adults should provide constant and careful supervision when children are in the water.

Learn CPR. In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, CPR skills can save someone’s life.

Air-filled or foam toys are not safety devices. Don’t use toys such as water wings, noodles, or inner-tubes, in place of life jackets. These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

Avoid alcohol. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.

Stay close. Even if there is a lifeguard on duty, stay in the water with younger children, especially if they are not strong swimmers.

Kiddie pool. Let young children use the kiddie pool, where they can splash and play without being tempted to go to deeper water.

Tips to help stay safe in the water

  Supervise. Designate a responsible adult to watch young children swimming or playing in or around water. Supervisors of preschool children should be close enough to reach the child at all times. Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, supervising adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity, such as reading, playing cards or even talking on the phone.

Learn to swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, adults should provide constant and careful supervision when children are in the water.

Learn CPR. In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, CPR skills can save someone’s life.

Air-filled or foam toys are not safety devices. Don’t use toys such as water wings, noodles, or inner-tubes, in place of life jackets. These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

Avoid alcohol. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.

Stay close. Even if there is a lifeguard on duty, stay in the water with younger children, especially if they are not strong swimmers.

Kiddie pool. Let young children use the kiddie pool, where they can splash and play without being tempted to go to deeper water.

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