Pool Safety for Kids

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Drownings are listed as one of the top causes of unnatural death amongst children in South Africa, but at the same time, these unfortunate events are very preventable.

During the December holiday period, Netcare 911 receives more calls relating to drowning incidents from inland provinces that it does from coastal provinces. There also seems to be a definite distinction between inland and coastal incidents. Coastal incidents seem to be involving the age group of 10 to 18 year-olds more predominantly whilst, inland, the greatest number of incidents involve the 2 to 8 year-old age bracket.

The Netcare 911 team in Gauteng have picked up on the fact that most of the drowning incidences involved the children of people who are not used to being around swimming pools. Children of domestic workers come to visit their parents for the holidays and are not familiar with swimming pools. Some the employers do not have small children themselves, so their pools are not protected, which leads to avoidable tragedies.

An adult should actively supervise children at all times and for toddlers, an adult should be in the water and within arm’s reach at all times. The supervising adult must know how to swim. To prevent small children from entering the pool area unsupervised, the pool should be fenced completely. Children need to learn how to swim.

Dry Drowning
It is responsible for about 15% percent of all drowning deaths. Dry Drowning deaths do not usually have water in the lungs. A quick rush of water into the throat causes the airway to snap shut, known as a Laryngospasm. During which, although no water gets into the lungs, no air gets in either and so the victim dies of asphyxiation, or, the shock of suddenly entering extremely cold water causes the heart to stop and cause cardiac arrest.

Delayed Drowning
Delayed drowning happens when someone inhales water that becomes an issue even hours after leaving the pool. Water in the lungs prevent the organs from carrying oxygen into the bloodstream causing oxygen deprivation to the brain and eventually death. The difference between Dry Drowning and Delayed Drowning is the presence of water in the lungs.

Facts about Drowning

  • Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths.
  • There are an estimated 372 000 annual drowning deaths worldwide.
  • 90% of children who drown are under some sort of supervision at the time.
  • A small child can easily drown in only a few hundred millimetres of water.
  • For every child that dies from drowning, five are left with permanent brain damage as a result of the prolonged lack of oxygen which occurs during a near drowning.
  • It takes only 4 minutes without oxygen for irreversible brain damage to occur.
  • 80% of people who die from drowning are male.
  • Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates.

Should you find yourself in the position of having to call for help, please call Netcare 911 immediately on 082 911.

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