Thursday, June 6, 2019

Summer Swimming Safety

This is the season for many fun activities, going to picnics, cookouts, sports, and swimming.  I am one of those people that loves the summer and tries to be outside as much as I can.  For those of us living in the Northeast, its a seemingly short summer season that requires us to take advantage of every warm sunny day we get.  My daughter is the same way, asking every day since April if she can get into the pool.  Most kids are drawn to the water like moths to a flame.  Special needs children are especially drawn to areas of water.  With this in mind I wanted to talk about water safety for EVERY child in the hopes that raising awareness can lead to an amazingly fun, and safe summer.

This post is dedicated to Judah Levi Brown.  I learned about Judah through an article which appeared on Facebook, from TODAY Parenting Team community site.  I was immediately touched by the words on the page, coming directly from his mom Christi's heart.  I asked if I could share her message with my readers, and she graciously agreed.  This is Judah..



Judah reminds me of my daughter where it involves water.  Most of the time I have to drag her out of the pool even when she is shivering or her skin looks like a wrinkled shirt.  And while reading the article I found myself nodding my head, agreeing with all of the things that were done to ensure his safety.  Swimming lessons...check.  Attentive adults...check.  Floating device....check.  Practiced rescue techniques....check.  I've covered all of the same angles with my own children.  Being a loving, careful, attentive parent should really always be enough to protect my child.  Until fate finds a way of unfairly and unjustly robbing us of what we work so hard to protect.

Judah's family was enjoying a BBQ with friends, and the kids were all enjoying the pool.  Judah had done as every other child does, hopped out of the pool, sat, and then decided to get back into the pool.  And in the transition from swimming, to drying, to sitting, to getting back in, he was no longer in his float device.  In a moment more, he was gone.  Despite quick reactions and attempts to keep him alive, Judah was gone.

Because swimming is such a fun activity associated with friends and picnics and happy things, the dangers lie silently in the background.  The truth is that drowning is the #1 cause of death for children ages 1-4.  It is the #2 cause of death for children ages 4-14.  And that boys are 77% more likely to drown than girls.  For every child that dies from drowning, another 5 are treated in emergency rooms for nearly drowning.  

For special needs children, the statistics are even more frightening.  Children on the autism spectrum are TWICE as likely to drown as typical children.  In a study between 2009 and 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% of injury related deaths of autistic children ages 14 and under.  An estimated 90% of drowning deaths occur while the child is being supervised.  That statistic is stunning.  There is likely a deadly combination of curiosity and lack of danger awareness that attributes to the increased risk.

So the question remains...how do we make proximity to water as safe for our children as possible?

  • Teach your child to swim.  With that, teach them what to do if they fall in or get into trouble in the water
  • Know your child's personalities and abilities
  • Underestimate your child's swimming ability.  Assume that any child will panic or forget the fundamentals if they run into water trouble
  • Maximize available supervision.  As quickly as an accidental drowning can happen, even the most attentive adult may not be able to track every movement
  • Understand that drowning is generally silent.  It is NOT like you see in the movies where a person splashes and screams.  A drowning child may not appear to be in any trouble until they are under the water
  • Make your pool secure.  A pool should be inaccessible from all sides, including a secured ladder
  • Remove toys from the pool when not in use.  Floating toys are enticing for children to reach for
  • Check for drains and other entrapment hazards
  • If you lose sight of your child check bodies of water FIRST
  • Learn CPR.  The sooner a drowning victim is given CPR, the better their chances of survival
 I'd like to express my sincere gratitude to Judah's family, and the Judah Brown Project for permission to share Judah's story.  Please visit the website at www.judahbrownproject.org. 
To Christi I would like to say your article was amazing, heartbreaking, and inspiring.  Thank you for bravely sharing your story and helping to save lives.

Be well and God Bless.   Tom


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