Less than two weeks ago, former NFL quarterback (now an ordained minister and pastor) Randall Cunningham’s toddler son died in his home’s backyard hot tub.
His son was the exact same age as my oldest daughter. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him and his baby boy.
The thought alone of losing a child is reprehensible. The fact that drowning is preventable has to add an element of torturous grief for parents. Randall Cunningham was on a flight at the time of his son’s death. But according to this article several people were nearby during the incident.
And unfortunately Randall Cunningham is not alone in his grief. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), drowning is the second leading cause of death to children under the age of 5, after motor vehicle accidents. In fact, the CPSC states that 350 children under the age of 5 die annually in swimming pools.
Swimming pools are not the only drowning hazards for children. Another 115 children drown annually in bathtubs, buckets, toilets, spas, hot tubs and other containers of water.
So what can we do to safeguard our children from the hazards of water? I have listed several tips below from the CPSC. In addition, local pool facilities offer infant swimming classes for children ages 6 months old and older, usually labeled “mommy and me” classes. I enrolled both of my children in a “mommy and me” class over the past two weeks. These classes don’t “teach” children how to swim, but rather aim to get them comfortable in the water as well as provide an outlet for socializing with other children.
I have discovered that both of my children are quite fond of the water and are anxious to “swim” on their own. My two year old constantly asks me to “let go” of her and my 10-month old kicks me to try to get away and swim.
After this class, I plan to sign both of my kids up for Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) classes. ISR teaches young children ages 6 months to 6 years of age survival skills in water (see photo below of “Emily,” a 14-month old ISR student). Photo Courtesy of westphotos_Jan on Flickr.
If you need more convincing, watch the video below or this video from Child Drowning Prevention.
The CPSC offers the following tips to prevent drowning in swimming pools:
• Install a fence or wall around your pool and hot tub. Fence gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of a small child’s reach.
• Install a power safety cover – a motor-powered barrier that can be placed over the water area.
• Keep rescue equipment by the pool and make sure a phone is nearby for emergencies.
• Don’t leave pool toys and floats in the pool or pool area that may attract young children to the water.
• Remove, secure and lock steps and ladders to the pool when the pool is not in use.
• If a child is missing, always look in the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
• Install pool alarms for an added precaution. Pool alarms should meet the requirements of the ASTM standard.
• To prevent body and/or hair entrapment, have a qualified pool professional inspect the drain suction fittings and covers on your pool and spa to be sure they are properly sized and attached.
The CPSC offers the following additional tips to prevent drowning:
• Never leave a baby alone in a bathtub – not even a second. Always keep the baby in arm’s reach. Don’t leave a baby in the care of another young child. Never leave to answer the phone, answer the door, to get a towel or for any other reason. If you must leave, take the baby with you.
• A baby bath seat is not a substitute for adult supervision. A bath seat is a bathing aid, not a safety device. Babies have slipped or climbed out of bath seats and drowned.
• Never use a baby bath seat in a non-skid, slip-resistant bathtub because the suction cups will not adhere to the bathtub surface or can detach unexpectedly.
• Never leave a bucket containing even a small amount of liquid unattended. When finished using a bucket, always empty it immediately.
• Store buckets where young children cannot reach them. Buckets, accessible to children, that are left outside to collect rainwater are a hazard.
• Always secure safety covers and barriers to prevent children from gaining access to spas or hot tubs when not in use. Some non-rigid covers, such as solar covers, can allow a small child to slip in the water and the cover would appear to still be in place.
• Keep the toilet lid down to prevent access to the water and consider using a toilet clip to stop young children from opening the lids. Consider placing a latch on the bathroom door out of reach of young children.
• Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) — it can be a lifesaver when seconds count.