Health Highlights

Only an Instant to Near-Tragedy – Water Safety

Published on: 06/01/2018

“I can still remember it—lying on the bottom of the pool, looking up at the surface of the water, and not being able to get there,” says Tim (actual name withheld for privacy), as he tells the story of his near-drowning, as a 6-year-old day-camper one New Hampshire summer nearly ten years ago.

“I slipped from the shallow end to the deep end. It happened really fast. My buddy noticed I wasn’t with him at the Buddy Check. They did Buddy Checks during swim time every two minutes. I don’t know how long I was underwater.”His mother, Debbie (actual name withheld for privacy) shares “It’s the phone call no parent ever wants to get. The one where the person on the other end of the phone tells you that your child was pulled from the bottom of the pool unconscious; that a by-stander administered CPR; that your child is on the way to the hospital in an ambulance.”

“My husband and I spent the night at the hospital,” she continues, “holding our son’s hand while he vomited huge amounts of water, watching and waiting to see if his condition would stabilize. It was touch-and-go all night as to whether or not he would survive.”

She takes a deep breath. “For us, things turned out alright. He recovered and is fine. But not every family is so lucky. We want everyone to know that accidental drowning can be prevented and that seconds count if a potential drowning incident does happen.”

Tim and Debbie’s story is frightening and, unfortunately, it is not uncommon. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States and for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

As we kick off the summer season, there are some basic prevention strategies to avoid having a negative experience in the pool or lake:

For more information and other tips on water safety, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Water Safety page at www.cdc.gov and search for “unintentional drowning”.

Contributor:

Dr. Alan Rosen, Family Medicine
Mid-State Health Center