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.