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Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida

Safety Important Component of Returning to School

Safety Important Component of Returning to School
“Infants and toddlers can drown in kiddie and large pools, toilets, buckets of water and bathtubs. Submersion injuries in adolescents usually happen at the beach or in canals, rivers or lakes.”

A family-friendly, fun event like a pool party, lake-side BBQ or day at the beach can change in an instant if parents, grandparents and other adults do not keep watch of young children around the water. In Florida, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4, but it is 100 percent preventable.

“Drowning is caused by respiratory impairment from immersion in water,” says K. Alex Daneshmand, D.O., pediatric intensive care specialist. “As a result of drowning, or submersion injury, there are a number of secondary injuries, which can affect the brain, heart or other organs. The neurological injuries are the most devastating and have the most impact on the patient and his or her family.”

Dr. Daneshmand says submersion injuries, including neurological injuries, can occur in as few as 2 minutes and in as little as 2 inches of water. “There are different threats for different ages,” he says. “Infants and toddlers can drown in kiddie and large pools, toilets, buckets of water and bathtubs. Submersion injuries in adolescents usually happen at the beach or in canals, rivers or lakes.”

While swimming lessons are important, they are just one tool in drowning prevention.

Other safety tools and tips include:

  • Never leave a child alone in or around water. An adult should always be an arm’s length away.
  • Assign an adult to watch all children who are in an area with water—designate a “water watcher.” Adults should have a phone and know how to use it—grandparents and older adults should know how to use cell phones to call for help. Teach children how to dial 911.
  • Learn CPR—it saves lives. Water watchers should know CPR.
  • Install pool barriers such as pool fences, alarms and self-latching gates.
  • Keep a lifesaving ring in the pool area.
  • Keep the pool and its surrounding environment safe—cover pool drains to prevent entrapment. Pool covers should be able to hold the weight of a child. Remove toys from the pool so the children are not attracted to them. Keep chemicals out of reach.

“If a child drowns, it is crucial to start CPR right away, while someone calls 911,” Dr. Daneshmand says. “Don’t stop CPR until EMS arrives or until the child is responsive. CPR is proven to help outcomes, so all adults should know how to give it.”

We tend to lower our defenses around the pool since the activities around the water are fun and everyone is enjoying themselves. But we can’t. Drowning or submersion injuries are a serious threat. “We pay attention to our hot dogs and hamburgers while cooking them, but we need to pay the most attention to our children around the pool,” Dr. Daneshmand says. “The pool and the water should be fun, but stay aware and be defensive, and follow the rules to stay safe.”


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K. Alex Daneshmand, D.O.
Pediatric Intensive Care Medicine
Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida
9981 S. HealthPark Drive
Fort Myers, FL 33908
239-343-5922

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