What Do You Do When Your Child is Drowning?

What Do You Do When Your Child is Drowning?
2/25/2016 4:21:38 PM

Summer is closer than you might think.

That means trips to the beach and the pool and all the other hallmarks of summer fun are right around the corner.

Your pool will surely be easy to open for the season, because you closed your pool the right way.

For parents, summer should be a time to relax around the pool, but it can be stressful with worries over your child’s safety in the water. Know what to do if your child gets into trouble while swimming. Having a plan will help alleviate anxiety about the possibility of drowning.

1. Identify the problem

This can be harder than it sounds. Aviation Survival Technician First Class Mario Vittone and Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D. talked about the difficulty in identifying drowning in an article the U.S. Coast Guard magazine. There is great information there, but it’s important to note a couple of key things.

The image of someone drowning on TV is not what it tends to look like in real life. Experts say that "except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help.”

Furthermore, drowning victims are not able to wave for help as they will instinctively use their arms to press down on the water and tread. Their mouths alternately bob above and below the water with not enough time for normal breathing and you may not a lack of a supporting kick as they attempt to tread water.

These signs are called the "Instinctive Drowning Response” by Dr. Pia.

These are important guides to remember, but it’s also important to note that they’re not the only things you need to look for.

2. Get them out of the water

Once you’ve identified that someone is drowning, you want to get them out of the water as quickly as possible. This is a top priority, and can be especially dangerous if you’re not a good swimmer yourself – make sure you don’t put yourself in danger when you’re trying to save someone else. With that in mind, consider our next tip.

3. Get help

Getting help is crucial, but if you're alone proceed directly to the next step. Acting quickly is the most important thing you can do.

Do not call 911 before checking for breathing and attempting to resuscitate. However, if you are with someone else, send them to get help and call 911, then proceed immediately to the next step.

4. Check for breathing

Place your face near the child’s and feel for breathing from the nose and mouth. Look for the chest to rise and fall. Talk to the child and try to get them to respond while you check.

5. Start rescue breath, then chest compressions

If there is no breathing, begin CPR.

Place the child on a firm surface. Tilt the head back and lift the chin. With a baby or infant, be sure not to tilt the head too far back.

With an infant you’ll place your mouth over both their nose and mouth to breath. With an older child, plug their nose and create a tight seal over their mouth with yours. Blow into the child’s mouth for one second. The chest should rise with your breath. Do it a second time.

After two breaths, begin chest compressions. There are different ways to do chest compressions depending on the age of your child. You can read in-depth instructions here on how to administer chest compressions. Once you’ve done 30 chest compressions, repeat the process. Two breaths, followed by 30 chest compressions. Please note that performing CPR without proper training can result in serious consequences (including punctured lungs and even death).

It’s worth looking into classes to learn CPR and details on how you should properly try to revive your child. It’s good to read up and know what to do, but it’s not a replacement for good training. Good training saves lives. Many community organizations offer these classes, especially at the beginning of the summer.

Posted by: Scott Morris | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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