I didn’t even hear the sound of her falling into the pool, but I saw her start to sink.
I was three feet away, watching her use a plastic shovel to draw out water to fill up her bucket.
It was chill, nothing to worry about, and then she lost her balance.
One second is all it takes.
No “survival instinct” kicked in. There wasn’t a frantic struggle to rise up.
She kept sinking.
I was there by her side and able to grab her immediately.
She shook it off within a few seconds, and I jumped in with her to swim to avoid a negative association with the water.
And to teach her we don’t live in fear.
But it was a startling moment even though I was one second away from her.
Because not everyone is this fortunate.
It only takes 30 seconds for a child to drown in 1 inch of water.
Am I giving my kid too much screen time feeding her the right foods being attentive enough without being too attentive and potty training them soon enough without being overbearing and vaccination schedules and play time and what will happen when she grows up and is sugar bad should my baby be Paleo?
Like a good parent I went to all of the check-ups.
Not once did our doctor, who is the best in the world, go over the dangers of drowning.
And this doctor is incredible, caring, and surely he would if he thought about it.
When we think about “health,” we worry about feeding the right food and whether a cough is a cold or something more.
Isn’t lifestyle of a child part of health?
“Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children 1-4 than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects).”
Why isn’t every parent told about the dangers of drowning?
“Kids in a pool are the worst calls you can ever receive.”
A police officer once told me that the worst calls he’s ever had to answer dealt with childhood drowning.
There’s the death of the child, he explained, and the guilt.
“The guilt never goes away,” he told me.
The guilt never goes away.
Rich or poor, it can happen to you:
As Morgan was chatting and enjoying a tea, she recalled Emeline walking between where the mom was sitting and the guest bedroom, where the other kids were playing — “which was all of 15 feet,” she noted.
“And, all of the sudden, it was just too quiet for me,” Morgan said. “We were mid-conversation, and I just stood up, and I turned, and I walked right to where the boys were, and I said, ‘Where’s Emmy?’ And before Nate could respond, I turned around the door that leads to the backyard — that was closed — had this tiny sliver of light coming through the side.” She recalled, fighting back tears, “And my heart sank, and I opened the door, and she was floating in the pool. And I ran, and I jumped in.”
People are going to call her a bad parent, because how else do you accept that this could happen to you?
People will try to use this article against me, even though I was by my daughter’s side and alert the entire time.
“This can’t happen to me, it must have somehow been the parents fault.”
What drowning (doesn’t) look like.
The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the couple swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine; what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not 10 feet away, their 9-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”
How did this captain know—from 50 feet away—what the father couldn’t recognize from just 10? Drowning is not the violent, splashing call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew know what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story.
Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life.
Read this article. It might save a life.
Children drown when they aren’t swimming.
Maybe you’re staying at a hotel or friend’s house.
Maybe the screen door doesn’t catch.
Maybe a door looks locked when it isn’t.
Maybe your child had a sudden intellectual growth spurt and can pick locks.
Maybe there’s a tear in the fence.
Danger hides in maybes.
A check list.
Lock the doors, and then push / pull on the door to ensure it’s locked.
If there’s a fence around the pool, take a manual inspection. Are there any tears or weak points?
Start swimming lessons early. We go twice a week as we live in a coastal area. Plus it’s good bonding time. You can’t have a smartphone on in the pool!
Focus on the big risks.
As parents we are told to agonize over every decision, yet studies have shown that unless you are truly an awful parent, you don’t have much control over your children. They are going to become who they are.
Don’t get me wrong. Read to them and all of that. (I read to mine before bed every night.)
But this agonizing over whether 30 minutes is too much time in the iPad, or whether they watch too many cartoons, is doing to drive people bonkers. (Watching cartoons is all I want to do as a kid. Then I got older and started reading.)
The major risks in life start to swirl around with the Perfect Parenting Model.
Some risks matter than others.
Should your kid watch an iPad for 30 minutes or 1 hour starts to seem as significant as stuff that will really hurt them.
- Are the doors locked? Did you double-check?
- Is there a pool nearby?
- Is the pool fully enclosed?
- Does your child know how to swim?
Drowning is the number one cause of death for children under 4.
Say it again, Drowning is the leading cause of death for children under 4.
The parenting mindset means you should focus on what has huge upside, and what has huge downside, and prioritize them accordingly.
Yes, as a parent, “Everything matters,” but some things matter than others.
Always remember and never forget, “Drowning is the number one cause of death for children under 4.”
Stay safe out there, and check out these resources: