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This Summer: One More Drowning is One Too Many

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It’s that time of the year again — pool season! As temperatures rise, there’s nothing more fun for kids to do than splash away in the nearest pool.

However, parents, grandparents and care providers must also be aware of the dangers that come with access to swimming pools.

Drowning is the No. 1 cause of unintentional injury death among children ages 1-4, here in Orange County and across California. In fact, California has recently seen an increase in the rates of drowning deaths among young children.  

Don’t mistakenly think that it can’t happen to you. Drowning can happen to any family. And, it can happen in an instant.

Our emergency crews save hundreds of kids each year. However, there are also children who tragically die or survive but are left with severe disabilities. Their families will never be the same.

What is so tragic is that childhood drowning is predictable and preventable. Installation of a 4-sided isolation fence around a home pool is the best practice to prevent a child from drowning. For that matter, older adults who suffer from dementia and even your pets can be at risk if the home pool is not completely fenced and isolated from your house and the rest of your yard.
 
Watching a child at any pool — including community pools & spas — is critical! We must be vigilant and remain within an arm’s reach of young children. If you are responsible for watching a child, you cannot be distracted by cell phones or conversations with others. If you have more than one child, consider having two adults as “water watchers.”

And, when you go to the pool, put a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on young children and all unskilled swimmers. You may even need one! Please remember that floaties are pool toys that can be hazardous — they do not prevent drowning. A U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket should be part of your child’s swim attire in and around any body of water. Put it on at home when you leave for the pool and do not remove it until you leave the pool area.

Make sure you take these simple but critical precautions to keep everyone in your family safe — and have fun in the pool this summer!

The Orange County chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP-OC) has developed a useful water safety flyer for parents:

To download the water safety flyer, click here.

To watch a video that demonstrates how to properly fit your child for a life vest, click here.

To access more resources to keep your family safe this pool season, click here.

Phyllis Agran, MD, MPH
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