After vehicle accidents, pool drownings are the second leading cause of death for children under the age of five. To date, 24 children have drowned this year — two more than all of last year. Estella Olguin is with Harris County Children Protective Services. She says the quickest, cheapest and sometimes deadliest way to entertain kids during the summer is at the pool.
“One thing we don’t see, is these drownings happening when there is a lifeguard on duty, because that’s their responsibility is to be counting heads, to be watching children, to look for a child that might be in distress. And most of these drownings is in backyard pools, apartment pools, or anywhere near a body of water where there’s not going to be a lifeguard on duty.”
“These are pretty predictable events and very preventable events.”
Dr. Joan Shook heads the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. She is also chief of emergency medicine and chief safety officer at Texas Children’s Hospital.
“This is a tragedy that cuts across all lines. Every single ethnic group is involved, every single socio-economic group is involved. It’s something that can happen to anyone.”
Some parents watching kids at the pool, believe they will be alerted to a drowning with a cry for help…or splashing. Shook says that’s a big misconception.
“Children tend to just slip under the water silently, and then somebody observes them at the bottom of the pool. There must be somebody at the pool site, who’s whole job is to be observing the people in the pool. And that means no telephone, no cell phone, no texting, no alcohol. Their real focus has to be a hundred percent on those children in the pool.”
Dr Kim Chung is a pediatrician with the University of Texas, Houston Medical School. As a member of the Houston-Harris County Child Fatality Review Team, she says teaching kids how to swim is important.
“And at the same time when they’re taking the swimming lessons, they will also be learning about water safety. So, children should be given lessons about water safety, at the same time, when parents, adults should be closely supervising these children.”
More information on child safety and pools can be found at www.safekids.org.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF…Houston Public Radio News.