Children drown quietly: Summer fun with terrible consequences

Summer is bath time. In the garden we set up paddling pools for our children. We take them to the swimming pool or to the bathing lake and look forward to a relaxing time by the sea. Children, whether young or old, love to play and splash in the water. Children in the pool are a self-runner. Finally we as parents have some time for ourselves. Of course we know that children who can’t swim should only swim under supervision. But in shallow water can’t happen, can it? Last week the lavender girl almost drowned in the pool, although she could stand in the water without any problems. A reason for me to sensitize you once again to the important topic of drowning children.

A big shock

It was a warm afternoon. We were invited to play with friends. The lavender girl was playing in the pool with her friend. She had put a swimming tire around her stomach and ran through the water with it. We sat on the terrace and talked. Four meters separated us from the pool. As I looked towards the pool I saw the lavender girl with her head lying in the water. The swimming tire was folded upwards. The arms laterally stretched out. The legs were kicking. She didn’t manage to shift the weight and get back on her feet.

I ran off, jumped into the pool and pulled her out of the water. The lavender girl cried immediately. I pressed the trembling and crying lavender girl into the arm of the lavender daddy, who cuddled her in a towel and sat down with her on a bench. I climbed out of the pool wet and was in shock. I felt like crying. What would have happened if we hadn’t been in the immediate vicinity and hadn’t noticed the lavender girl? I don’t even want to imagine it.

While the lavender daddy praised the lavender girl for reacting so well to the situation, because she was trampling her legs and thus drawing attention to herself, the keyword “secondary drowning” shot into my head. What if water came into my lungs and suffocated the lavender girl afterwards? In the following hours we watched the lavender girl very closely. Fortunately, there were no signs at all. She didn’t cough, didn’t complain of nausea and wasn’t tired or apathetic.

Water is always a danger

We were lucky in misfortune and got away with a big shock. As parents you can’t imagine anything more terrible than watching your child die. Therefore I implore you: Do not let your children bathe unsupervised. Keep a close eye on them. Water is always a danger – no matter how deep the water is. In fact, even a small puddle is enough for a great misfortune.

Protect children from drowning

If you should set up a splash pool or a pool in the garden or on the balcony in summer, make sure that the children only play in the garden under supervision and of course also bathe in the pool. The temptation to stop by the paddling pool and fall into it is great. The same applies to other water sources in the garden, such as rain barrels, garden ponds, buckets filled with water and the like. What many do not know: Children under the age of three can drown at a water depth of 5 cm.

Primary drowning – children drown differently than expected

When (small) children get under water with their heads, they often can’t get on their feet anymore because they have a relatively heavy head. In addition, they quickly lose their orientation in the water. As soon as they fall into the water with their heads, a kind of shock reaction is triggered. The epiglottis in the pharynx closes and makes breathing impossible (keyword epiglottis cramp). This is why drowning people cannot call for help. They drown quietly.

Drowners can’t wave their arms either. Instead, the arms are instinctively stretched to the side to stay afloat as long as possible. A conscious control of the arms when drowning is not possible.

As you can see from the example of the lavender girl, swimming aids offer no protection from drowning. On the contrary, the lavender girl has lost contact with the pool floor and has been unable to straighten up.

Secondary Drowning: An Underestimated Danger

If a child has actually had a bathing accident, the child pulls out of the water as quickly as possible and wraps it in a warm blanket to counteract hypothermia. Observe the child carefully afterwards. See a doctor with your child and have the lungs examined. If the child has inhaled water, it can get into the lungs and even after 24 hours still lead to severe breathing disorders and thus to death.

I hope I’ve been able to shake you up a little bit with that article. Water is not only a danger for non-swimmers. Even bigger children and adults can drown. Please don’t let your children out of your sight while bathing and splashing. Otherwise you will never forgive yourself.

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Christina Cherry
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