It can happen in the blink of an eye or the turn of a back. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, but it’s a reality we must acknowledge. As the summer temperatures begin to settle in, countless South Floridians will try to beat the heat each day by seeking refuge in a swimming pool or other body of water. The time to focus on water safety and drowning prevention is now.
Just last week we read a headline that seems hard to fathom: “Local boy dies one week after swimming.” A 4-year-old boy lost his life from a condition called dry drowning (also known as secondary drowning). He was playing in knee-deep water over Memorial Day weekend when a wave knocked him over. He quickly got up and seemed fine for the rest of the day. However, Frankie Delgado unknowingly inhaled water into his lungs which over time caused his blood oxygen levels to drop and his heart to slow resulting in a cardiac arrest.
There was an incident even closer to home in North Lauderdale during Memorial Day weekend, as well. We saw the headline: “Local child drowns during pool party.” While her family and friends exited the pool and made their way inside, 5-year-old Victoria Brown found her way back to the pool without being noticed and tragically lost her life.
With the majority of homes having private swimming pools and the easy access to beaches, the risk of drowning is immeasurably greater.
The truth is, drowning can occur in many different ways, even among a pool full of children with a group of parents looking on. It’s up to us as a community to instill proper swim safety techniques in our children. Here’s what we can do as adults to be “water smart”:
- Provide close and constant supervision of your child;
- designate a water watcher when in and around water;
- enroll your child in swim lessons as early as possible;
- learn CPR and ensure other adults who may be supervising your child are CPR-certified;
- ensure swimming pools have four-sided fences and self-latching/closing gates;
- and ensure swimming pools have proper drain covers.
We encourage you to have open dialogue with not only your children but your physicians, neighbors, secondary caregivers and friends about swim safety.
DAVID MARCUS and CASSIE MCGOVERN, BOCA RATON
Editor’s note: Dr. David Marcus is a board-certified pediatrician in Pediatric Associates’ Boca Raton office. Cassie McGovern is the senior human services program specialist for community health and drowning prevention with the Florida Department of Health in Broward County.