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Prevent Toddlers From Drowning


Back in December of 2009, the nation was taken by storm over the story of a child who drowned in the family pool on a foggy morning. The mother was questioned and condemned for tweeting a prayer request as she was at the hospital waiting for news about her son. More recently, former Eagles QB Randall Cunningham lost his toddler to a drowning in the family hot tub. In every article reporting deaths of drowning, there tends to be a tone of condemnation towards the parents. Instead of that, we should take lessons away about how to prevent them, whenever possible.

If one were to search the web, “toddler drowning,” thousands of news stories will appear. In nearly all of them, the reporter often notes things such as there was no fence, the parent was in the house, or on the phone, or some other detail that while factual, also seems to suggest “Why did this parent not prevent this drowning?” Without being in a parent’s shoes, during such a time, it is impossible to pass judgment. Rather than doing that, remember what can be done and educate yourself and count your blessings that it was not one of yours.

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As the summer continues, more parents will be taking their children into the backyard to their own swimming pools, to local lakes and beaches, to city pools and so forth. Even in the off-season, drowning can occur. It is an important child health and safety topic. Professor Joseph Torg, a professor at the Temple University School of Medicine, has some simple but important tips for preventing drowning in toddlers.

Firstly, he says, we should understand that children do not drown like those shown on television shows and movies. “It happens quickly, silently, and without notice. Once submerged, children become disorientated and oblivious to the change in environment from air to liquid.” A parent most likely will not hear their child flailing and calling for them because that is not how it happens.

Professor Torg offers the following tips for prevention:

  • Be aware. Keep an eye on your children at all times, especially at crowded areas, such as city pools
  • Teach children to swim by age five
  • Use fences and pool covers to secure area
  • For non-swimmers and those under the age of five, use wading pools or a Coast Guard-approved life vest.
  • For any bodies of water with currents, for any age or swimming ability, use a Coast Guard-approved life vest.

Professor Torg says “With regard to pools, hot tubs, ponds, streams and rivers, the adage ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ is a gross understatement. With drowning, there is no cure.” While parents cannot always stop the unimaginable from happening, taking these steps and continuing to be aware will help reduce the number of lost lives due to drowning.