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Toddler water safety

by ParentalChoice
in Holidays, Family, Children, Childcare
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backyard swimming pool

backyard swimming pool (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The recent tragic news about that 5 year old Chloe Johnson  who drowned in a hotel swimming pool in Sharm-el-Sheik highlights just how dangerous water can be for young children.Safe and Sound Paedeatric First Aid Training(www.safeandsound.uk.net) have written this article aimed at keeping young children water safe.

Each year millions of Brits go abroad for their summer holidays and stay in hotels or Villas. Swimming is one of the main activities but not all pools are that safe. More than half of the victims of drowning on holidays are under 4 years old.

Many hotels do not have lifeguards on duty and those that do tend to see their role more as handing out beach towels than constant pool safety supervision. This also goes for Villas with pools.  You need to ensure when you hire your Villa that there is a fence around the pool and that there is a shallow end for young children with easy access. Ask the tour operator specifically if the pool is suitable for young children.

Drowning is the third largest cause of accidental death in the home to the under-fives – with the majority happening in July and August during the school holidays.”

It is not only hotel swimming pools that pose a danger. Once the warmer weather starts and families spend more time outside it becomes more dangerous for toddlers.  It is not usually until the age of four that children begin to understand the concept of danger and it is very young toddlers who are most at risk . Whilst they can walk they have not learnt how to turn themselves over and if they fall face down into some water, even just a few centimetres in a pond or a bucket, and then take a breath they can asphyxiate.

Once the heart stops there is only 3 minutes before irreversible brain damage occurs. It is every parent’s nightmare. You take your eye off your child for a moment and she disappears. You search frantically, look out of the window and see her, face down, in the garden pond.  It happen more often that you realise.

One of our trainers who is also a paediatric A & E nurse has tried to resuscitate many toddlers who have drowned. “Success rate for resuscitation depends on how long the child has been left before resuscitation starts.”

 “In reality once a child’s heart stops beating, you only have approximately 3 minutes without oxygenation before the child’s brain is likely to suffer irreparable brain damage.  Therefore the heart must either be restarted or oxygen be provided mechanically by someone else, i.e. starting CPR

“Teaching resuscitation skills to parents is a very emotive subject and I do try to be realistic, as I want parents to understand the importance of immediate action,” she explains.  

A few years ago she recalls a situation when she was working in a large A & E Hospital and she was involved in the resuscitation of a toddler who had drowned in the family pond.   The accident happened in February, on a cold but sunny winter morning.  The two older children of the family went out to play in the garden, but didn’t realise the toddler followed.  After approximately 20 mins playing dad spotted the toddler face down in the pond.  He retrieved him and started CPR, as luckily he had been trained.  An ambulance was called and when it arrived the paramedics started more advanced life support and brought him to the emergency department.  On his arrival this little boy was significantly hypothermic and was resuscitated for almost an hour before his heart spontaneously re-started.  The little boy made a full recovery. 

The possible explanation for this was the fact that this incident involved cold water drowning.   If the child is profoundly cold, i.e. hypothermic at the moment that the child’s heart stops his vital organs, in particular the brain, may be protected from damage due to lack of oxygenation, a concept often referred to as ‘protective hypothermia’.

Which is why we emphasise that if you ever have to use CPR on a baby or child you do not stop until help arrives or until you are too exhausted to carry on.

 Research shows that  80 per cent of pond drowning happens in the garden of a friend, relative or neighbour. Which means that parents and child carers  need  to check out where their children are playing, and if it is safe.  Just  spend a few minutes checking for potential hazards – and they are not always just ponds.

 Look for any containers which may have collected rain water and ensure that paddling pools are emptied at the end of the day. Taking simple steps such as these could go a long way in preventing tragedy. Remember children often drown in just a few inches of water.

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