Tag Archives: drowning

Children and Pools (Article)

​Summer is a season when parents need to be especially vigilant about their children’s safety. One of the biggest summer risks starts when the pools open for business. What summer vacation signifies for youth is cooling off from the summertime heat by jumping and playing in a pool. For children, the neighborhood pool means freedom, friends, and fun. For parents however, their immediate concern needs to be, “safety first!” As beautiful and harmless as backyard appears, parents must remember it can be dangerous and even lethal for their children. A 2013 report found that children younger than 15 represented 78% of deaths from pool-related injuries. These data certainly cast a dark shadow over the image of fun in the sun. ​Since when did swimming at the pool become dangerous? The report “Pool and Spa Submersions: Estimated Injuries and Reported Fatalities” discusses findings related to this class of injuries. This 2013 report found that the majority of these pool-related fatalities involved children “15 years or younger” at neighborhood pools. Interestingly enough, the report also found interesting demographic information related to these incidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found African American and Hispanic children at higher risk of drowning. Particularly, African American children, between ages 5 and 19, were “six times more likely to drown in pools [versus] white and Hispanic children.” They also found that 70% and 62% of African American and Hispanic children, respectively, could not swim adequately. The report did not identify the exact origins behind these figures but point out a serious health hazard threatening a large group of children. ​How do we solve the problem of childhood drownings? Should we outlaw community and backyard pools? No, we need to increase our efforts to make sure every child learns to swim and know how to safely be around water. Thanks to organizations like the American Red Cross, the YMCA, and most public swim facilities, families can teach their children how to swim and remain safe during this and all future summer seasons. Proper swimming is a vital life skill that all beachgoers, children and parents should know. It may seem obvious but the solution to childhood drownings is really simple, professionally taught swim lessons along with good adult supervision around water. Smo Notes: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Newsroom/News-Releases/2013/Pool-Safely-Call-to-Action/ Written collaboratively by Norman Spencer an Paul Smolen M.D.

The Truly Amazing Story of Ian (Article)

 

 

With the permission of him and his family, I am going to tell you what happened to a patient of mine named Ian. Three years ago on a hot summer day, Ian went to the pool with his brother to go swimming.  They played games, competing and challenging each other physically like brothers do.  During a game of “How far can you go underwater?,” Ian’s brother noticed that Ian stayed underwater too long . Tragically, an 18-year-old lifeguard and an adult neighbor dragged Ian out of the water blue, lifeless and almost dead.  Ian’s life was now in the hands of  others, his  neighbor and a teenage lifeguard.  How quickly life can change!

Unfortunately, all of the pool water that Ian inhaled severely damaged his lungs; doctors just didn’t know whether the damage extended to his brain.  He spent weeks in the pediatric ICU with all the advanced respiratory support the doctors could muster. The most extreme measures were used to keep Ian going.  Things didn’t look good; the medical staff told Ian’s parents that he had just a fifty percent chance of surviving.  While the family prepared for the worst, however, Ian fought back.

A month after entering the hospital, a frail and exhausted Ian went home with fairly good lungs and, fortunately, a great brain and spirit.  His recovery was truly miraculous, a testament to his wonderful medical care, his religious faith, and his remarkably strong strength of character.

Knowing Ian’s story, I was thrilled when his mother called me recently to tell me that Ian has a summer job.  Not only has he managed to make a complete medical recovery against very steep odds, strengthen his bonds with his family, return to school and earn good grades, but now he has a summer job as, of all things, a LIFEGUARD!  Talk about giving back, this guy is AMAZING!  When I spoke to him recently, he told me that he hasn’t saved anyone yet, but he is ready to return the life saving favor to anyone who needs him. I know he will.

 

If you have comments, log onto my pediatric blog at www.docsmo.com.  Take a few minutes to explore the literally hundreds of articles and posts on the site.  Until next time.

 

Written by Paul Smolen MD

 

 

 

 

 

From the Desk of Doc Smo- Children and the Risk of Drowning (article)

As any of my patients will tell you, I am big on swim lessons for children. I think it is terrible if a child reaches adult life and doesn’t know how to swim well enough to be safe around water.  Because of my enthusiasm for formal swim lessons for children, I read with interest an article that I saw in the February edition of Pediatrics, the journal from the Academy of Pediatrics. The authors studied the rate of hospital admission for near drowning in the US for the past 16 years. They found that during this period of time, there has been a dramatic 49% decline in hospitalizations for children who almost drowned. This must mean that children in the past 16 years have become better equipped to stay safe around water, probably because more children have access to formal swimming lessons. Great news for children.

 

I am heartened to see this improvement, but I won’t be happy until the decline is 100%. There are so many things in life over which we have no control, but prevention of drowning in children is probably not one of them. I can’t tell you how many instances I have been the physician of record during near drowning events. It is a horrible experience for everyone involved, but especially for the family of the child.

 

Here is what you can do to make sure your family doesn’t endure such pain. Make sure you maintain extremely close supervision over very young children around bathtubs, ponds, and pools, and enroll them in formal swimming lessons beginning at 4-5 years of age and not stopping the lessons until your child is a strong swimmer. By “strong swimmer,” I mean they should be able to swim long distances in deep water and know the Dos and Don’ts around water. You can also reinforce the rules about never swimming alone, never diving in water where you don’t know where the bottom is, using approved flotation devices when boating or swimming in open water, and swimming with great caution in open water, especially where there might be currents that are dangerous.

 

If you are one of those parents who thinks you can teach your children to be safe swimmers on your own, think again. I believe every child deserves formal swimming lessons taught by someone who is trained to do so. If you are one of those parents who does not know how to swim yourself, make especially sure you don’t let your own fear of water get in the way of your child learning to swim. Not only are non-swimmers at great risk around water, but they are also missing out on one of life’s truly fun activities.