Children and drowning, dangers are year-round

Swimming season is over, and with it my anxiety of drowning was ready to go into hibernation. Not so fast, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.


(CJ Gunther/For The Washington Post)

The report found that 431 children died due to in-home drowning between 2005 and 2009. The vast majority of victims were younger than 2 years old. This is the age group that we might cling to in a pool, but let splash around happily in a tub. That’s fine, as long as we’re right there next to them.

About 17 percent of the deaths were among children 2 to 5 years old. These are the kids we often trust to play alone in their rooms or outside, so we might extend the trust to tubs. We shouldn’t.

It’s news to no one that parenting is an exercise in extreme multi-tasking. But this is one area where we have to force ourselves to slow-down -- or even stop -- and focus on the child in the water.

“It’s so easy to get sidetracked by the phone ringing or another child screaming for help,” CPSC media specialist Stacey Palosky wrote me. Palosky is a former Post parenting blogger and Health editor. She knows of what she speaks: “All parents need to remember the importance of vigilance around all water.”

Here’s more CPSC guidance on prevention:

• NEVER leave young children alone near any water for ANY amount of time. EVER. Young children can drown in even small amounts of water.

• ALWAYS keep a young child within arm’s reach in a bathtub. If you must leave the room, take the child with you.

• Don’t leave a baby or young child in a bathtub under the care of another young child.

• Never leave a bucket containing even a small amount of liquid unattended. Toddlers are top-heavy and they can fall headfirst into buckets and drown. After you use a bucket, always empty it and store it where young children cannot reach it. Don’t leave buckets outside where they can collect rainwater.

• Learn CPR. It can be a lifesaver when seconds count.

— From the CPSC blog “On Safety.”

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