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Pool Safety – Please Read!

Our daughter almost died on Sunday. This is not a joke or an embellishment. Our two year old baby girl fell into the deep end of our pool, wearing a diaper (that gets very heavy when wet), while her father, mother, aunt and older brother were all in the house. I wanted to write about this yesterday but every time I thought about it I started to cry.

What I know…

The pool gate was not closed. None of us adults closed it and none of us, myself, my husband or my sister-in-law can answer why we left it open. But it was.

I was in the kitchen getting dinner ready. My husband and sister-in-law were in the backyard, near the BBQ. Little Miss wandered outside, and I heard my husband say “You don’t have shoes on, so you need to go inside”. I didn’t see her, or my husband or sister-in-law come inside.

I finished what I was doing in the kitchen and went to the living room where my sister-in-law had just sat down with my son and out of the corner of my eye I saw my husband react. I saw him throw papers in the air and run outside. He had been coming out of our office with something he had retrieved off the printer and before the papers could flutter to the ground I knew. I just knew that our daughter was in the pool.

I ran outside after him and he was already in the water, pulling her up. She was conscious. She spit out water and started to cry. She clung to me for 20 minutes before she’d even let me take her diaper off. Her eyes were as big as saucers.

My husband said he didn’t hear anything, not a splash, not a cry. Nobody heard anything. What he saw, what caught his attention, was our dog looking into the pool. He then realized the pool water had ripples. He said when he dove in, she was almost to the bottom. Our two year old was almost at the bottom of the deep end of our pool.

I think of the what ifs and I start to cry. My husband is a hero for noticing what my sister-in-law and I didn’t, but we are all to blame for not closing the pool gate. We are blessed that she is ok, and the pool gate will never be left open again.

According to the CDC every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.

Summer is here, doors are open, distractions abound. Please, please, please be safe around the water and take as many precautions as you can. Drowning is silent, it is quick, and it can happen to anyone.

Tips to help you stay safe in the water (sourced from www.cdc.gov)

  • Supervise When in or Around Water. Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and all children swimming or playing in or around water. Supervisors of preschool children should provide “touch supervision”, be close enough to reach the child at all times. Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn) while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.
  • Use the Buddy System.  Always swim with a buddy. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.
  • Seizure Disorder Safety.  If you or a family member has a seizure disorder, provide one-on-one supervision around water, including swimming pools. Consider taking showers rather than using a bath tub for bathing. Wear life jackets when boating.
  • Learn to Swim. Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when children are in the water, and barriers, such as pool fencing to prevent unsupervised access, are still important.
  • Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.
  • Air-Filled or Foam Toys are not safety devices.  Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as “water wings”, “noodles”, or inner-tubes, instead of life jackets. These toys are not life jackets and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
  • Avoid Alcohol.  Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.
  • Don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called “shallow water blackout”) and drown.
  • Know how to prevent recreational water illnesses.  For more information about illnesses from recreational water, see the More Information section below.
  • Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating.  Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous.

If you have a swimming pool at home:

  • Install Four-Sided Fencing. Install a four-sided pool fence that completely separates the pool area from the house and yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet high. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of reach of children. Also, consider additional barriers such as automatic door locks and alarms to prevent access or alert you if someone enters the pool area.
  • Clear the Pool and Deck of Toys.  Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use so children are not tempted to enter the pool area unsupervised.

If you are in and around natural water settings:

  • Use U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets. This is important regardless of the distance to be traveled, the size of the boat, or the swimming ability of boaters; life jackets can reduce risk for weaker swimmers too.
  • Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags. These may vary from one beach to another.
  • Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents. Some examples are water that is discolored and choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving in a channel away from shore.
  • If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore. Once free of the current, swim diagonally toward shore.



  1. Oh my gosh, that is so scary. I’m so glad she’s ok, and that your husband saw her in time. She’s a lucky girl, and a great reminder to us all to be vigilant around water with our little ones!

  2. OpinionsToGo says:

    OMG! I am so sorry that Little Missy and all of you had to experience that! What a nightmare! I can’t even imagine the horror of it all. Thank God for a happy ending.

  3. Oh my God, Coreen, this is so scary. I am relived that little F is okay. It was an accident and one I know will never reoccur. Much love to you all. xoxo

  4. Thank God your husband noticed just in time. This just proves that you can never be too careful. Even the most diligent parents make mistakes every now and then. I think we’ve all done things that we realized afterwards could have been catastrophic. Hug her extra tight and lock the pool gate. :)

  5. So so scary. :( I’m sorry this happened to you!! My daughter did this when she was 2 also, luckily we were all on the patio. She went down the stairs and was playing on the grass. I turned around and assumed everyone was helping to keep an eye on her and she chose that moment to run across the yard into the pool and just hop right in. I got her quickly, but the fear in my heart… I can never forget that. It’s so important to not get lax about closing the gate.

  6. This was so hard to read. I just felt sick in my stomach the whole time. I’m so glad she is OK. These are great tips, and I will share widely. I am always amazed by how casual some adults seem to be about water safety for kids. I have always been vigilant and now that my 3yo is having seizures, I am even more so. I don’t care if anyone thinks I am overprotective. I take every one of these precautions.

  7. Coreen, my heart goes out to you and all that you and your family are going through. Someone was watching over Flynn and she came out ok. Sending lots of love and hugs. xo

  8. Oh my gosh! I’m shaking like a leaf! This is an awful accident that could have happened to any one of us parents. I’m so happy your baby is safe and sound. We’ll be even more careful now. Sending you much love. Give your little girl a huge hug from us xoxo

  9. Stumbled on this from a retweet and am crying just imagining what you went through and what could have been. Thank the Lord you were able to prevent the horrible and I am praying for yours and your daughters mental and emotional state. My toddler recently had a couple seizures and all the what ifs that went through my mind while seeing my blue son shake uncontrollably traumatized me and I couldn’t barely think about it without breaking down for a week at least. I still feel like I’m suffocating remembering it.

  10. Oh Coreen. I don’t even want to imagine the unimaginable. Carrie always used to say that God watches over babies and drunk sorority girls. I think she was right…
    I am so happy hubby was so observant. I am sure you held both your babies a little closer that night.
    Love you…

  11. oh my goodness Coreen, this is so scary! I always tell matt that we can’t go to big pool parties because of this but the reality is it can happen anywhere at any time. I am so sorry you went through this, so glad to hear that she is ok….big hugs. Tara

  12. Ohmygoodness, I have tears! I can’t imagine how scared you were.

    Thank you for writing this, and for the tips and reminders to respect the water – -and tot each our kids the same.

    (I’m so sorry that this happened, and am glad that she’s okay!)

  13. Kari Jensen says:

    Coreen, Shit!
    Thank you for posting this. It’s super brave to share this kind of story.
    I can hear your heartbreak, but I bet 1 zillion dollars Little Miss will never be left unattended by water again (which will suck when she’s 16 and trying to get the boys to notice her.)

    You’re dog is rad! You’re husband is amazingly attentive and fast, thank God! You’re love and care are immeasurable….do not forget that. It was an accident and it shows how very real life/death can be, but you noticed! You did.
    All that being said, go ahead and let her sleep with you for awhile (haha- I know you were working on that) and also, you are an amazing Mom.
    Breathe :) And buy her a cute life perserver. They are super fashionable these days :) http://www.target.com/s?searchTerm=baby+life+jackets&category=0%7CAll%7Cmatchallpartial%7Call+categories

    And- go see a therapist :) Ha!

  14. Jennifer says:

    I would like to add – small children can escape out doggy doors, so make sure you install fencing around the pool. A friend of mine’s child did this as an infant and he came very close to dying. He has a severe anoxic brain injury now (nearly 4 yo).

  15. Hugs to you!!! What a horrific experience. I cannot imagine :-(

    Thank you for writing this and raising awareness!

  16. I am so glad your husband saw this. Our friends just lost their 14 month baby girl last week to this. It is sooo sad.

  17. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve experienced.So glad that she’s ok.

    Yes, having a pool fence installed is the most basic security we can provide to our children. But still the locks regularly since during cool weathers, pool fence locks may tend to misalign from their usual position. It’s better to have self locking fence doors and the door must open towards the outside making the entrance less convenient.

    Thank you for sharing and creating awareness.

  18. Holy crap! I am so glad this story ended well! A big hug to you and your family.
    This scares me to death. We live in a neighborhood with lots of pools even though we do not have our own. And even with swimming lessons under our belts I still worry.

  19. Wow. That is a frightening story. I am so sorry you had to go through that experience. I am so glad your daughter is fine.

    Swim lessons are the most important thing you can give your child for drowning prevention. Swim lessons can help children feel more comfortable in the water and give them the ability to swim out of dangerous situations. However, there are certain situations in which a child may still drown, even with swim lessons. Drowning doesn’t look like what you see on television. I recommend reading this article and watching the video about what drowning really looks like:


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  1. [...] like it did recently for this mom, whose toddler gained access to their backyard pool through an open gate. Thankfully, they noticed [...]

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