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Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children under the age of 5 years old. It is most common in children between the ages of 1-5 years old, however it can occur at any age. The most common causes of drowning include inadequate adult supervision, inability to swim, use of alcohol (teenagers and adults), and risk-taking behavior. Seizure disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and underlying cardiac arrhythmias are also potential causes of drowning.
One common situation where drowning occurs is at a gathering where multiple adults are present. Everyone assumes someone else is keeping an eye on the children and then an accident occurs. Good rule of thumb- never assume! Watch your kiddo and stay alert.
The process of drowning can occur very quickly and can also happen quietly. Most commonly, the drowning victim struggles to keep his/her head above water, and when the victim can no longer maintain a clear airway, he/she becomes fully submerged in water. The water is aspirated into the lungs and leads to the inability to breathe effectively. The lack of oxygen leads to loss of consciousness. Drowning can occur in natural bodies of water and pools, but it can also occur in smaller containers of water in the home such as buckets, bathtubs, and toilets.
There are many important and viable strategies to reduce the risk of drowning. Studies have shown that the prevention of drowning involves five major interventions: swim lessons, 4-sided pool fencing, life jackets, supervision, and lifeguards. Parents should never leave young children alone near a body of water (no matter how small-this includes buckets of water, toilets, and bathtubs). A supervising adult should stay within arm’s length of any infant, young child, or other incompetent swimmer when in or near water. For older children and more competent swimmers, it is essential that a supervising adult be assigned to “watch the water”-i.e. keep an eye on the child swimming. It is also very important for the depth of the water to be assessed before anyone jumps in. Jumping or diving into water that is too shallow can lead to a spinal injury. Lastly, all parents should become CPR certified in order to be able to competently intervene and perform CPR if needed.
Stay safe this summer!
Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care opened in 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. With multiple locations in San Antonio and Dallas, they are open seven days a week with extended evening hours and see walk-in patients or through an online check-in system. They accept most commercial insurance and Medicaid plans. More information about Little Spurs Pediatric Urgent Care can be found at www.littlespurspedi.com.