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Water safety tips: How to keep your child from drowning

Pools, ponds, lakes and oceans aren't the only dangerous areas for kids. A child can drown in as little as two inches of water and it can happen in seconds.

HOUSTON — Two near-drowning incidents involving Houston-area toddlers this week are reminders of the importance of pool and water safety.  

A 2-year-old girl was flown to a hospital Friday morning after being found in a Baytown pool, according to police. 

Editor's note: The video above originally aired in 2020.

A 3-year-old boy is fighting for his life after nearly drowning in a hotel pool. Surveillance video from the hotel showed the boy struggling near the steps and three other children playing in the pool nearby. Less than 20 feet away an adult can be seen sitting in a chair and the hotel manager said she was on her laptop. She's the one who eventually pulled the boy out. 

"If you are enjoying with your electronic device it means you do not have any attention to your children, so you should not come (to) the pool with your electronic device," Rame Singh told KHOU 11. "It doesn't matter if it's a laptop, it's a musical instrument, it's a gaming instrument because the kids are your responsibility."

And don't think it couldn't happen to you. Drowning is quick and quiet and it's the second leading cause of death for children under 15. Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest rates of drowning.

Seventy-six Texas children drowned in 2022, according to the Department of Family and Protective Services, including one in a bucket. In 2023, seven of the 20 children who've drowned in Texas so far were in Harris or Galveston counties. 

The City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department offers a free swimming lessons program. Click here for more information.

We've put together a list of water safety tips from getparentingtips.com.

Home Pool Safety

Backyard pools, spas, and hot tubs can be fun, but it's important to make a pool safety plan to protect your own children and guests. Keep in mind that large inflatable pools can be just as dangerous as in-ground pools. Make sure these pools are emptied after each use or they have a locked fence around them.

Every year, emergency rooms treat about 6,400 pool and spa injuries in children younger than 15 years old. 

Pool Safety Tip #1: Secure the Pool Area

The first step in a pool safety plan is to think about how you'll keep children and pets from gaining access to the pool. Children often die in backyard pools when they slip through exterior doors, even pet doors, while parents are asleep or distracted. Protective fencing, gates, and doors provide the first line of defense against drownings.

  • Hot tubs, spas, and pools should always be behind a fence that is at least 4 feet high.
  • The fence should have a self-closing, self-latching gate that opens outward. The latches should be out of reach of children.
  • Keep back doors and pet doors locked to prevent children from accessing the pool or hot tub.
  • If possible, install doorknob safety covers and/or locks or bolt latches higher up on exterior doors where children cannot unlock them.
  • A pool alarm can detect waves on the pool surface to let you know if a child or pet has fallen in.
  • Add a lock to a gate leading to your backyard for extra precaution.
  • These tips apply even if you don't have children of your own. Olympic skier Bode Miller and his wife Morgan's 19-month-old daughter drowned in 2018 when she slipped through the back door of a friend's house they were visiting. “A child under 30 pounds can drown in 30 seconds,” Morgan Beck Miller told TODAY. “And I just keep counting to 30 in my head. That was all I needed.”
Credit: Miller, Bode
Miller, Bode

Always supervise

  • A responsible adult should always supervise children in and around water. Keep new swimmers and non-swimmers within arm’s reach.
  • You can also designate a “water watcher” whose job is to maintain constant watch over kids at the pool during pool parties.
  • Make sure the adult knows CPR and has a phone to call 911.
  • Adults should leave their devices inside so they're not distracted.
  • Have flotation devices available to use in a rescue
  • Share rules with anyone who may watch your child
  • Teach water survival skills: The CDC says swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by up to 88 percent. The earlier your child learns to swim, the better. 

Along with swim lessons, your child should know how to:

  • Return to the surface if they fall in over their head
  • Float or tread water
  • Turn in a circle in the water and look for an exit
  • Swim 25 yards (75 feet)
  • Get out of the pool without using the ladder

Other outdoor water safety tips

  • Never leave children alone in or around water (pools, kiddie pools, lakes, creeks, buckets, beaches, ponds or drainage ditches).
  • Floaties can give small children a false sense of security. They don’t realize it’s the floaties that are keeping them above water. Don’t take them off while you’re near water.
  • Find out if your child's friends or neighbors have pools at their homes.
  • Do not allow children to swim in any water after heavy rains or flooding.
  • When the pool is in use, completely remove pool covers and cleaning machines.

Indoor safety tips

Drowning dangers aren't just limited to recreational swimming areas like pools, lakes, and rivers. Drowning can happen in less than 2 inches of water, and when babies drown, it most commonly happens in bathtubs, buckets and even toilets. 

  • Never leave small children alone near any container of water, including tubs, buckets, coolers, toilets or aquariums. 
  • Keep bathroom doors closed and secure toilet lids with locks.
  • Never leave young children alone in or around the bath. 
  • Get what you need before filling the tub. If you need to leave the room, take the child with you.
  • Make sure children can't leave the house to get to pools or hot tubs.

Source: Helpandhope.org








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