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Jodie
xox

Monday, October 04, 2010

Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning

Image from mariovittone.com
As the weather warms up, more and more kids will take to their backyard pools, and dive in to the crystal clear ocean waters of our surrounding coast. Hours of fun will ensue. Unfortunately, a number of children will also drown this summer - some within arms' reach of their parents. 


The other morning on Twitter I followed this link and was saddened to read about yet another toddler's death by drowning. It's all too common, isn't it?


Years ago, friends of mine had neighbours with whom they were very close. Their neighbours had two kids and they also had a pool, and my friends and their three daughters spent many hours over there, playing together in it. 


The neighbours were doing some renovations, and from memory, their back door was like their pool gate. The workmen had to prop it open so they could gain access to the backyard, and so the neighbours watched both children whilst in the house to make sure they didn't get access to the pool.


However, as it happens in many families, including my own, at one point both parents discovered their four year-old son was missing - both thinking he was with the other. They immediately ran out to the pool, only to discover him at the bottom of it...not moving. Lying beside the pool was his new water gun that he had received for his birthday just days before. No doubt, he had attempted to fill it and had slipped in to the water.

They had heard nothing. Not even the slightest splash.


In this instance, the boy was successfully resuscitated and survived. However, he had been deprived of oxygen for too long and he became severely affected and will never lead a normal life. Nor will his parents or sister for that matter, as he will require constant supervision and assistance for the rest of his life. 


A friend of mine recently sent me a link to this post by Mario Vittone (mariovittone.com) who has nineteen years of combined military service in the US Navy and Coast Guard (thanks Nicole!). He has written a very informative and thought provoking message about drowning. Drowning doesn't look like drowning. Much of what we see on television - people thrashing around, shouting for help - is not actually, in reality, how someone drowns. Please read it and please pass the message on. Every life lost is yet another tragedy that just should never have happened. 


As Mario writes in his post, "...children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you go to them and find out why."


Stay safe this summer. 


Jodie

12 comments:

The Dotterel said...

Important post. Thanks for sharing those links. The more people read, the better.

MomAgain@40 said...

Great reminder! Thanks! :D

MMBB said...

Backyard pool drownings are disturbingly common. I nearly drowned once at the local pool, I was about 7 and got stuck under one of those floating mats, I thought I would be able to swim under and pop my head up in the middle of it like an air bubble but soon learned that those things are not easy to move. It was terrifying. And when I managed to resurface at the edge of the mat gasping for air, I looked around and not one person saw me, or was the least bit concerned.

When your underwater, you can't scream or splash. It's incredibly hard to move and very scary.

make do mum said...

I had a near-drowning experience as a child (in a public swimming pool where you'd think a lifeguard would have noticed!) It was exactly as the post by Mario describes: I couldn't wave or call for help, I was just gulping air when I could and luckily a friend noticed me and dragged me to the side where I was safe. It hope lots of people read that link and know what to look out for.

x0xJ said...

I've always said children are at their most dangerous when you can't hear them.

I really love that you've posted about this. I've had many people tell me how i am a "demanding mother" and that it is "stupid" of me to expect my babies to learn to swim prior to school. But that has been a big issue in my family where both my SO and i feel strongly that swimming lessons from a young age are far more important than dance classes, sporting activities and social events. Especially in our hot country summers where we are almost always around water.
Master B (4) can swim completely unassisted and unaided and has been able to since he was two and a half. We pulled him out of swimming classes in Autumn because they became more stroke oriented, in perfecting those techniques and we felt he knew what he needed to know and we had observed as parents what to encourage. Master D hasn't started swim classes yet, and i'm not sure if we will put him in, i guess that will depend on how we feel about it come the end of summer.
Even through all of this, knowing Master B CAN swim, and he's ok around water we never leave him unsupervised. It is nice that i can sit and watch and don't have to get in if he wants to have a swim though.
And my shameful secret that makes this so important? I, a grown adult, cannot swim. I will be damned if i allow my children to be in a situation like mine.

Bronnie and family said...

It only takes seconds and as you say, it's silent. One my kids were young, my ex and I were actually in the pool with the kids. The eldest was swimming around, the youngest was sitting on the pool steps, as she only 'swam' in our arms. My ex and I were chatting when C. exclaimed: 'H. is drowning.' We both raced to her, she was trying valiantly to tread water and failing. Apparently she'd fallen or moved off the edge of the step and went down. We were right there with her, but had taken our eyes off her for a second. I like to think we would have notice straight away, but who knows. She was fine, but scared and spewed up on me straight away. I have NEVER forgotten that moment. The angels were watching us that day (them and her big brother).

Seraphim said...

I have a real "thing" about this issue and that's why I'm determined that a) my kids will be proficient swimmers asap b) I'll be as vigilant as possible when there is water around.
Great post.

mummabear1970 said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I have put it on my Facebook page. More people read that than read my blog. It taught me so much. I like to think that I am vigilant as a parent but this makes me realise that it truly only takes a few seconds of distraction for a disaster to happen. Such an eye opener. May many lives be saved by you sharing this post.

River said...

This is sad.

Ami said...

Great post Jodie, and a fantastic reminder for everyone. I'm not a very good swimmer at all, but will definitely be making sure my kids learn to swim asap.

alnmum said...

Fantastic & timely post Jodie. I am a nurse and spent many years in Emergency. In all of the 'near drownings" I have cared for, the common statements were " We were right there", "There were people everywhere" & "She/He never made a splash". You can never be too vigilant with kids and pools, but lets not forget fishponds, dams and kiddy wading pools - you don't need much water to drown.

Crinau said...

Agree with others, this is a good reminder for everyone.

My son silently fell into a friend's pool with us sitting next to it. No splashing, no noise, nothing. Grabbed him.

A year later he did it again. This time he took off his floaties and was then reaching from the edge of the pool to get his ball floating in the water. I told him to stop and wrestled with the pool fence as he fell in. The other kids already in the pool were stunned and froze. I got through the fence, finally. I looked down onto his face there under the water as I grabbed him. His look on his face under the water is etched on my memory.

My son has been doing swimming lessons all winter and they will continue until he is proficient and confident.