Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Safe Spring

The post today has nothing to do with my usual topics. However, with spring upon us and summer coming I am writing to remind everyone to be vigilant around water as our children spend time at the pool, lake or beach. Drownings occur far too frequently. TV and movies depict drowning as loud events filled with splashing and flailing and screams. In reality, most children drown quietly, slipping under the water silently, only to be found later.

To illustrate this point I offer two stories.

The first involves my son. When he was much younger my wife and I would take our three kids to the community swimming pool. We would often socialize with other young parents while the kids swam, but I always kept my eye on our children, even though they wore life vests until they could swim independently.

One afternoon my wife took the kids to the pool while I was working. My son, who was about five at the time was on his little floating device while my seven year old was watching him. My wife was talking with some of the other mothers, but was also watching the kids. My son, in a single moment when my daughter turned her head away, slipped off his "floaty"and silently went under the water.

Luckily, my wife was there. She quickly excused herself, jumped into the water and pulled him out, unharmed. Three lifeguards on duty came running, profusely apologetic. Not one of them had noticed this near drowning. Thank God for my wife's vigilance.

We had learned the need for such attentiveness from a parenting magazine which had run an article about this  topic, making it clear that children drowning is a silent event. I talked about this near drowning  in the OR the following week, emphasizing the silent nature of this frequent cause of childhood death.

The following Monday one of the Nurse Anesthetists gave me a big hug. She said that because of what I had recounted in the OR the previous week, the child of a friend had been prevented from drowning. Once again this young child had slipped under the water silently. No splashing, no screaming, no calls of distress. But, because of what I had said, she was keeping a close eye on all the kids and she jumped in and rescued him, once again unharmed.

So, as spring and summer approach, those of you with young children or with anyone that cannot swim, listen up. Please pay close attention anytime they are in or around water. Do not take your eye off of them for even one second. Teach your kids to swim. Just because there are lifeguards on duty, don't become complacent. The lifeguards often don;t see everything and they are not paying attention to your kids only.