A Silent Killer in Children
By Carol Ball, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
water recreation provides children and their families hours of fun
and exercise, water and children can be a dangerous mix. Parents
should be aware that drowning is the second leading cause of accidental
injury-related death among children ages 1 to 14 and the leading
cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4.
Although water exercise is very common, the lack of parental knowledge
about drowning risks is striking. According to new research done
by Safe Kids Worldwide, only a third, or 34 percent, of parents
recognizes that drowning is one of the top two causes of accidental
death among children. Sadly, drowning is not the only risk of pools.
More than 66 percent of parents are not familiar with the risks
of drain entrapment.
occurs when part of a child's body becomes attached to a drain because
of the powerful suction of a pool's filtration system. Serious injuries
can occur when the force of the suction overpowers the child's ability
to rise to the surface. Often, the strength of an adult is still
not enough to remove a child trapped by a pool's drainage system.
child is no match for the powerful suction of a drain," said
Martin Eichelberger, M.D., of Safe Kids Worldwide and director of
Emergency Burn Services at Children's National Medical Center. "The
dangers of the drain can easily be mitigated with the right equipment.
Parents should warn their children to stay away from drains and
install safety devices if they own a pool or spa."
devices include anti-entrapment drain covers and safety vacuum release
systems (SVRS). SVRS detect any blockage of a drain, immediately
shutting off the suction to prevent entrapment. Pool owners should
also install multiple drains, not just one, in order to decrease
the amount of suction at the drain site.
is often a silent death because there is very little noise to alert
anyone that the child is in danger. Fortunately, drowning can be
prevented. Parents can help lessen the risk factors by following
some simple safety tips.
Teach your children to stay away from the drain, and warn your children
about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment
" Actively supervise your children around water, and have a
phone nearby to call for help in an emergency. Unfortunately, many
parents do not realize the importance of active supervision around
water at all times. Active supervision means that a parent or caregiver
is giving undivided attention to the child and is close enough to
help the child in case of emergency.
Ensure your pool has fencing around all sides and a self-closing,
self-latching gate, to prevent a child from wandering into the pool
area unsupervised. It is estimated that the use of four-sided isolation
fencing could prevent 50 to 90 percent of pool drownings and near
Install a door alarm, a window alarm or both on the side of the
house facing the pool or spa to alert you if a child wanders into
the pool or spa area unsupervised.
Tie long hair securely so that it will not get caught in a pool
or spa drain. Entrapment can occur when a child's hair or swimsuit
gets tangled in the drain or on an underwater object, such as a
more information on pool safety, visit www.choa.org or www.safekids.org.
Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the leading pediatric healthcare systems
in the country, is a not-for-profit organization that benefits from
the generous philanthropic and volunteer support of our community.
Operating three hospitals with more than half a million patient
visits annually, Children's is recognized for excellence in cancer,
cardiac, neonatal, orthopaedic and transplant services, as well
as many other pediatric specialties. Children's is ranked as one
of the top 10 children's hospitals nationwide by Child magazine
and is among U.S. News & World Report's top pediatric hospitals.
Children's has also been named as one of the "100 Best Companies
to Work For" by Fortune magazine. To learn more about Children's
Healthcare of Atlanta, visit our Web site at www.choa.org
or call 404-250-KIDS.