Every summer, Los Angeles County firefighters and paramedics hear the words, “I only looked away for just a few seconds!” Unfortunately, 20 seconds is all it takes for a child to drown, and drowning accidents are a leading cause of death for children under 4 years old.
This year, the Los Angeles County Fire Department has seen an increase in the number of emergency responses related to drownings and near deaths. In all of 2014, 14 drowning deaths were reported in Los Angeles County, according to the Coroner’s Office. Since January 2015, 13 drowning deaths have been reported. Many of these tragic accidents could have been prevented.
The Fire Department urges you to be water safe when cooling off in the pool by following these simple rules:
- Never take your eyes off a child when he or she is in or near any body of water, even for a second.
- Don’t rely solely on barriers, such as fences or walls near a pool or spa. There is no substitute for constant supervision.
- Keep toys, tricycles, and other children’s playthings out of the water and away from the pool or spa.
- Don’t consider your children to be “drown-proof” because you enrolled them in swimming or “waterproofing” classes.
- Don’t rely on inflatable devices to keep your child afloat. These are not substitutes for adult supervision.
- Make sure your pool or spa has a fence, wall or safety cover that guards against unsupervised access, particularly by young children.
- Make sure doors leading to the pool or spa area are self-closing and self-latching, or are equipped with exit alarms and are never propped open.
- Always drain standing (surface) water from the pool cover. Remember that even a few inches of water can be hazardous, especially to young children.
- Install a phone—or keep a cordless phone—in the pool or spa area.
Almost 70 percent of all drowning accidents occur in backyard swimming pools. If you see a child or an adult having trouble in the pool:
- Don’t panic; yell for help.
- Get the child/adult out of the pool immediately.
- Call 911 immediately for emergency medical services.
- If you’re trained, begin CPR if necessary.
- If you’re not trained in CPR, follow telephone instructions from the Fire Department until firefighters arrive to assist you.
The Fire Department wants everyone to remember to stay safe during any water recreational activity. Remember, just a few seconds is all it takes for a life to be lost to this preventable tragedy.