As much as children love to splash about in water, it is not always the safest activity. In fact, toddlers aged between one and three years are most at risk– especially when left unsupervised. They are recently mobile and thus, more curious; and can’t understand the dangers of water.
This is especially a concern for parents in Singapore who often head to the open beaches and swimming pools to cool off steam. And while many studies point to sea, rivers, and swimming pools as the danger zones; and even with warnings and knowledge of water safety, sometimes it can be easy to overlook the red flags.
As was shared recently by a mum on Facebook, who saw a toddler almost drown in front of her eyes and the parents failed to pick up on the red flags.
Water Safety For Children: Mum Shares How A 4-Year-Old Almost Lost His Life At The Beach
Facebook user Charlie Reynolds was at the beach with her daughter recently where she saw the incident unfolding. She decided to share the post to alert other parents to take the rules of water safety for children more seriously.
She wrote, “The little boy was toddling about in a shallow pool of water while his parents stood at the edge. He was perhaps only 8 feet away from them. Suddenly, he tripped over as toddlers do, and landed flat in the water where it was at its deepest – about my knee height.”
Unfortunately, his parents didn’t understand the gravity of the situation and they waited for him to stand back up, but he didn’t.
“He lay flat, his hands windmilling a little and his feet flapping. Nothing dramatic. Just quietly drowning in front of their eyes, ” shared Reynolds. It was only when she crashed through the water to get to him, the kid’s mum realised that her son was in trouble. But by the time she lifted the little one, he had already ingested a lot of water.
“He was blue and I could hear the water he had aspirated gurgling and rattling around as he coughed and cried.” Reynolds and the kid’s mum comforted the child and helped clear water from his chest.
Through her post, Reynolds wanted to highlight that the child’s parents didn’t realise that the child had genuinely started the process of drowning.
“It was a momentary lapse on the part of both parents. But it was also a sign that they didn’t understand the dangers of water & just how quickly a child of that age can drown, ” shared Reynolds.
So to raise awareness on this issue she also shared few precautionary measures for parents.
Water Safety For Children: Remember These 7 Rules
Image courtesy: iStock
Here’s what she suggested (verbatim):
Toddlers heads are disproportionately large compared to their bodies, so even just lying flat in very shallow water they cannot lift their nose and mouth clear to breathe.
Unless a child has been taught from a very young age, turning their head sideways or putting their hands down to push themselves up, or pushing the bottom of a pool with their feet to propel towards the surface, or rolling over in the water, or holding on to an object to stay afloat, or any other self saving action is NOT reflexive. Most children will either lie/hang almost motionless in the water. Some will even tip upside down due to their heavy head versus buoyant nappy. Children need to be taught what to do & even then you should never assume they will rescue themselves from even the shallowest of water.
A child can drown in the time it took me to type this single sentence. They do not necessarily reflexively hold their breath. Even if they do, water may already have entered the larynx as the reflexive airway closure happens, which immediately starts the process of drowning. In addition, the vocal chords may go into spasm to close the airway, but may not reopen when the head is clear of the water, which prevents the person from breathing. This is secondary drowning.
Anyone who is drowning has water in their airway. Drowning is therefore SILENT. There is no screaming for help & flapping of arms. In most cases, it is a ‘plop’, then nothing. An adult may make motions that look like they’re climbing a ladder – messing about. A child probably won’t even do that.
Most drownings happen when other people are watching. Everyone is watching, but no one is seeing. Everyone assumes someone else is being vigilant, but no one actually is. Or, even worse, someone does notice but doesn’t want to interfere or look an idiot by crashing into the water like I did today.
Anyone who ingests water should be watched carefully for 24 hrs at least & any child who does should be checked out at the hospital. Water penetration to the larynx or aspiration into the lungs can cause submersion injury that does not display itself until a period of time afterwards. Children are particularly susceptible. As the mother of a child who aspirates due to a severe respiratory condition, I know only too well the devastating effect this can have. So if your child does have an accident such as the one I witnessed today, please take them to the hospital.
She ended her post by urging parents to rush kids to the hospital immediately, if they get into such an accident.
Parents thank Reynolds for her insights
Concerned mums thanked Reynolds for sharing the exhaustive list of precautions.
One user wrote, “Gosh, how traumatic, so lucky you were there! Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know some of the things you mentioned yet they are so important and could save a child’s life.”
While another said, “I’m amazed how little people are aware about the danger of dry drowning after an incident like this too. That must have been scary for you all to witness. Well done got helping.”
Another stated, “Thank you so much for posting this Charlie! I didn’t know a lot of this. Well done for being there and thank goodness you were.”
We applaud this mum for her quick thinking and radical candour. It not only saved the life of that toddler, but also enlightened many other parents of water safety for children. If you’re a parent of a toddler, remember that young children can drown in as shallow as five centimetres of water. This means every exposed water source, no matter how shallow, can pose a significant danger to your child.
Measure Of Water Safety For Children In The House
So here are tips to ensure your child’s safety, especially around water bodies–at home and outside:
Always supervise your child in the bath.
You should never leave an older child to supervise a young kid in the bath.
Always keep the doors to the bathroom locked.
If you have to store water, then make sure it has a tight lid and it is away from the sight of your child.
Cover the ponds or any similar water sources with mesh.
Measure Of Water Safety For Children Outside The House
Image courtesy: iStock
Encourage your kids to learn swimming
Children can take formal swimming lessons from a young age. It not only enables them to be safe, but also makes them confident around water.
Always use floats
Kids below five years of age may not be able to use their swimming skills in an emergency. So ensure that they always use floats. There are many flotation devices like inflatable vests or ‘floaties.’ However, even though they provide an extra layer of safety, don’t treat them as an alternative to supervision. Stay alert and supervise your child even if they are wearing their personal flotation device.
Supervise your child
The most important preventive tactic is to supervise your child around water – at all times. This means you should actively watch over them when they are in and around the water.
It’s also advisable to learn the process of CPR. In an emergency situation this will come in handy and can save a life. Here’s how.
While Reynolds’ presence of mind and her experience helped to save the toddler from drowning, not everyone is as lucky. Therefore, stay alert to keep your kids safe!