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Family, Did you know...
09. August 2019

Children drown quickly and quietly

It's frightening: drowning is the second leading cause of death among children under the age of four. Even small pools pose a danger. Why is that?

When toddlers can be saved from drowning, they are often left with severe damage because their brains don't get enough oxygen. Many parents are not aware of how dangerous even small pools can be. They let their children play unsupervised near bodies of water, are busy with their smartphones or get distracted while supervising them. Bathtubs, swimming pools, but also shallow garden ponds or paddling pools pose a great danger. Even 5-10 cm high water can be dangerous for small children. Toddlers drown quietly. They do not scream. They still have a disproportionately large head compared to their body and therefore fall easily. When they fall with their head into the water, a shock reaction occurs, breathing is stopped by a reflex. A little later, spontaneous breathing occurs and water is inhaled, which goes directly into the lungs. The child becomes unconscious and the heart stops. Toddlers are not able to recognize the dangers of water. When they are at play, they do not notice high waves, strong currents, or other dangers.

Choose safe swimming aids

It is important for parents to know which floatation devices offer safety. Float wings are unsafe and are only suitable if an adult is permanently watching over the children. Only life jackets that leave the head up are really safe. Here too, children must be under constant observation.

Tips for preventing bathing accidents involving small children

  • Never leave small children unattended - neither in the bathtub, nor in the paddling pool or near shallow pools. If several adults are present, you should agree on who will watch the children.
  • To be on the safe side, put a life jacket on the child when near water for added safety.
  • Attend water familiarisation and swimming courses with the toddlers as early as possible. This is possible from about 3 years of age. However, children cannot learn to swim properly until they are about 5 years old. The brain is then sufficiently developed to implement the correct movement sequences. Swimming courses are offered in indoor swimming pools, and now also in the Swiss Holiday Park.
  • Even if a younger child can already swim, caution is still advised. Especially when the water is cold, when there are waves or strong currents, a child quickly reaches its limits. Only from about 10 years of age and with a lot of practice is a child relatively safe in swimming and assessing dangers.
  • Swimming pools and paddling pools should always be covered when not in use.
  • Make garden ponds childproof (surround with a fence).
  • Securely close rain barrels, fountains, etc.
  • If a child falls into the water and is drowning, immediately pull the child out of the water and wrap them in a blanket to prevent hypothermia. Even relatively warm water can cause hypothermia.
  • Always seek medical attention, even if the child has only swallowed water. Water may have gotten into the lungs.
  • If the child is unconscious, it must be placed in the lateral position. The airways must be clear. If the child's breathing and pulse can no longer be felt, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation must be performed immediately and the emergency doctor must be called as soon as possible. Until the emergency doctor arrives on the scene, ventilation and cardiac massage must not be interrupted.
  • Under no circumstances should children be shaken or held with their legs up in the air. This will prevent the water from escaping from the lungs.
  • It is advisable to regularly refresh first aid courses.