by Mesquite Fire & Rescue Chief John Higley
I have had my share of drowning incidents… all of them tragic and all of them preventable.
Did you know that over 3,500 people drown each year? That’s about 10 per day. Of those 3,500 people, 700 of them are children. Children ages 14 and under. What a tragic, terrible waste. Another scary statistic is that according to the Center for Disease Control for every child who dies, another five children receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries, and many of these children exit the hospital with long-term disabilities.
We, as an emergency medical response agency are asking you to please help us to prevent these horrible and needless tragedies.
Here’s what you can do:
Always stay within an arm’s reach of your child when he or she is in or near the bathtub, toilet, pools, spas or buckets. Never leave your child alone or in the care of older children during bath time. Not even “for a minute”.
Once bath time is over, immediately drain the tub.
Empty all buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside-down and out of children’s reach.
Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks if you have toddlers in the home.
Never leave your child unattended in a tub or around any other body of water, even if he or she knows how to swim.
Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
Children in baby bath seats and rings must be watched
Actively supervise your children around water at all times, and have a phone nearby to call for help in an emergency. Before you go playing in the river, make sure you have cell service.
Make sure your pool has four-sided fencing and a self-closing, self-latching gate to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised. It’s the law. In addition, hot tubs should be covered and locked when not in use.
It’s not a bad idea to install a door alarm, a window alarm or both to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
From the start, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.
Enroll your child in swimming lessons after age 4 – typically the earliest age when they are likely to practice and retain information. Teach children how to tread water, float and stay by the shore.
Learn CPR and know how to respond in water emergencies. Remember the old adage, “Reach, throw, row, then go”? Take a few things along with you that you can use to throw to someone who may need help. Take a look around the pool and see where the rescue devices are so you can be of help. Mesquite Fire & Rescue would be happy to set up a CPR class for you and your friends and neighbors or help you find a class to fit your needs. For more information you can contact us at 702-346-2690.