Water Safety Awareness: How Child Drownings Occur
Child drowning can occur through a variety of means, and not all drowning deaths take place when a child goes under at a lake or a pool. In fact, a large number of them happen when a child isn’t swimming, but rather, playing somewhere near a body of water. So we’ve gathered a collection of story briefs to inform parents about some of the different ways children get themselves into trouble, in the hopes that this knowledge will translate into an increased safety awareness of the dangers around water:
The Different Ways That Children Drown
- A swimming pool that was left abandoned after Hurricane Katrina claimed the life of a 7-year-old boy. He was chasing a soccer ball and may not have realized that the bright green surface of the algae-covered abandoned pool was water. Authorities say the boy was in the water for about 15 minutes before firefighters could pull him out. (USA Today, 5-19-08, p. 5A)
- In Georgia, two brothers, ages 14 and 11, drowned in a pond after a bit of shenanigans turned deadly. They were with a group of children when one tossed a can that the younger boy had been playing with into the water. The younger child went in to retrieve it. When he didn’t come up, his brother jumped in to try and rescue him. The bodies of both boys were found about 10-feet from shore. (USA Today, 6-17-08, p. 6A)
- In Texas, a 4-year-old boy and his grandfather never came back from a fishing trip. When the child fell into the water, the grandfather jumped in to try and save him. Both drowned. (USA Today, 12-23-08) This horrible tragedy could have been prevented with a simple life jacket.
- In New Mexico, a little girl and her younger brother drowned in a pool of rain water after wandering from a family gathering. Five-year old Michelle Marmolejo and her 3-year-old brother, Brandon, were found floating in the water about 20 minutes after they vanished. (USA Today, 9-21-09, p. 7A)
- Three boys attempted to cross a creek that was flooding after heavy rains. All three were swept away. The two older ones were able to keep their head above water and were rescued. The youngest boy, an 8-year-old, drowned and didn’t survive. (Men’s Journal, April 2010)
Children Drowning in Pools
- A toddler in Louisiana was killed in a pool accident, even though his family didn’t have one. His mother left the two-year-old unattended in his yard for a few minutes. The boy managed to walk through a fence that had been damaged by high winds from Hurricane Ike, and made his way to the neighbor’s pool, where he drowned. (USA Today, 9-15-08, p. 13A)
- A Wisconsin woman found herself facing child neglect and reckless endangerment charges after she dropped off her two children (ages 8 and 9) and a 7-year-old friend at a hotel pool, then left to get gas. When she returned to the Holiday Inn in Tomah, the friend was found unresponsive in the pool. Luckily, he was later revived by CPR. (USA Today, 11-19-08, p. 11 A)
- A toddler in Arizona drowned after she fell into a pool while she was chasing a cat. (CBC News Phoenix, 10-18-09)
- A mother lost track of her toddler while she was posting a message to Twitter about working in her chicken coop as the fog rolled in. The Twitter message was posted at 5:22 p.m., the emergency call to police was posted at 5:23 p.m. from an 11-year-old sibling. They had found the 2-year-old at the bottom of the pool. He later died at a hospital. (Moore & Bazar, 2009)
Children Drowning in the Home
- In Wichita, Kansas, a toddler drowned after falling into a decorative pond in the backyard. The boy had been missing less than five minutes when his father found him in the pond. He was not breathing when he was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. (USA Today, 10-26-09, p. 8A)
- In Indiana, a 3-year-old girl drowned after she fell into a sump pump pit in her family’s basement. She was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later. (USA Today, 12-2-09, p. 14A)
- In South Carolina, a 1-year-old girl drowned after falling into a mop bucket. Authorities say the girl’s father woke up on a Thursday night to find his daughter head first in a mop bucket in the kitchen. (USA Today, 1-11-2010, p. 4A)
- An Arizona baby drowned in the tub while the mother checked her email. (ABC News Phoenix, May 6, 2010)
So now that you’re good and terrified, and thus hopefully willing to do whatever it takes to protect your own children from such a fate, let’s move on to how you can keep your children safe around water.
Water Safety printable book
A Fun and entertaining children’s book that teaches kids some basic principles on water safety. Recommended for kids ages 4-10.