Drownings and near drownings
If you own a pool, if your friend owns a pool, if your parents, or anyone you know, owns a pool, then this is for you.
When someone falls into a swimming pool you only have around 60 seconds to take action before there is a risk of permanent and, sometimes, tragic consequences.
Although drowning statistics that are less than 10 years old are hard to come by, there are some fixed statistics that I found which haven’t changed. The few articles I was able to read did not have dates, so I have no idea when they were written.
Here are a few facts; a child can drown in less than 3 cm of water! Internationally more males drown than females (I could not find out why this was but I searched numerous sites and they all agreed with this statistic) and lastly, 90% of drownings happen while under supervision.
I have personal experience with this. We were at friends for lunch four years ago. The moms were sitting by the pool talking and the dads were swimming with the kids. Suddenly I noticed that one boy had his brother hanging limply in his arms. He had found him at the bottom of the pool. We pulled him out and I began CPR immediately as the child had no pulse and was not breathing. Thankfully the outcome was good and the child has no lasting side effects. This was a 9 year old child, who could swim, and was under supervision of 6 adults.
Water is an integral part in African tradition and some of these beliefs have, therefore, prevented the older black generation from learning to swim. 25 years ago only 15% of South Africans could swim and the majority of those were white. Now thank goodness, kids are being taught to swim, especially those attending schools in the cities as most schools have swimming as part of their sports’ curriculum.
In Jewish culture, we have an obligation to teach our children how to swim (or at least how not to drown). I think every single parent has this obligation.
There are numerous swimming schools around that start teaching when the children are still babies. It used to be called drown proofing.
According to an undated Netcare 911 post I found, their statistics showed that there are more drowning incidents inland than there are at the coast.
A government website for GEMS stated, in an undated article, that there is a minimum of one drowning per day and that for every 1 child that dies, 5 are left with brain damage.
So what exactly is drowning? The definition is that there is a respiratory impairment from being in or under a liquid. The term drowning is mostly used when being submerged in liquid led to death and the term near-drowning is used to refer to those who had survived the submersion.
Secondary drowning occurs when fluids build up in the lungs. This usually happens after a near drowning incident. The person can be walking around and appear fine after their ordeal and a few hours later they are in critical condition, or dead.
The sooner you begin effective CPR on a person who has drowned the more likely they are to survive. However, the success rate drops after 4 minutes and after 8 minutes severe brain damage is inevitable. The two most important steps to a successful outcome, besides prevention, is knowledge of CPR and getting help fast.
Here are your important numbers:
Nationally on your cell: 112 This is a call centre and can be dialled from any cell, as long as it has a battery. No airtime or sim card needed.
Netcare 911: 082 911
ER 24: 084 124
Hatzolah is the Jewish community ambulance service: 083 222 1818
Rescue 786, is the Muslim community ambulance service: 083 9000 786 or 011 040 1888
How do you prevent drownings?
- At least 2 forms of pool protection, i.e. net and fence, plus a gate alarm
- Don’t leave toys in the pool when you get out. These attract the kids.
- The use of inflatables gives a false sense of security. They should still be used under supervision,as it can prevent the child from turning over if they land face first in the water
- Small wading pools must be emptied after use.
- Above ground pools must have their ladders removed.
- Make sure the person supervising the water play can swim in case of an emergency
- Know CPR. Have a list with the relevant numbers clearly displayed at home or near the pool. The doctor, the ambulance service, a close friend or relative plus those mentioned above.
- In a bath, never leave a child unsupervised, even sitting in a bath ring.
- Never ask young siblings to supervise while you leave the room
- Don’t leave water in a bucket and pull out the plug from the bath immediately after use.
- Keep your bathroom doors closed
- Get safety locks for your toilets. Toilets are a great place for toddlers to throw toys into!
- This is the most difficult. If you can’t swim, don’t get in the water to rescue anybody! If you get in to trouble then not only do you need someone to rescue your child but you will need rescuing too.
Enjoy summer by the pool, or at the beach, responsibly Make it a summer to remember with only good memories and experiences.