Summer is almost here. Pools are soon to be officially opened, if they aren’t already. Children running and playing in the mid summer heat, and of course, swimming. As a medical professional when I hear of summer, I cannot help but bring awareness to the entity that is the swimming pool. They are the leading cause of death in children under 5 years of age. And it happens in what feels to be less than a second to most parents.
A father leaves for work in the morning and does not lock the apartment door behind him. His three year old wanders out of the apartment while his mother and siblings are asleep. He finds himself at the pool and though there are gates, those are unlocked too. He is found facedown in the pool hours later. A family visits a friend that owns a pool. The mother is helping take out the trash with their two year old tagging along. The mother turns away from the child and dumps the trash and when she turns around the child is missing. She searches the house first, then goes around the backyard and finds her child in the pool. A celebratory party is being held with the adults inside and all kids poolside with the grandmother watching the kids. When one child who cannot swim falls in, the grandmother is too slow to notice, and slower react.
These stories are few of the many true stories I have witnessed, all different beginnings but similar endings. It appears to me almost like a caricature of life, a mockery on life, a testament of how easily something beautiful ends. To the parents, it must appear as a dream, a torture scene from a horror movie. It is preventable, yet it is the most common cause of death in children less than 5 years of age. And I guarantee you no matter this fact, as summer approaches I will see more children admitted to the critical care unit for drowning. I always wonder why more has not been done to make parents better aware of the danger that lurks in a simple pool.
On the one hand, I wonder why children are not supervised more closely? Why are you not placing gates with locks that actually work around your pools? But on the other hand, it does not mean we need to fear the swimming pool. But it does mean we have a responsibility to our little ones. It involves teaching children early on how to swim. We must be attentive to our surroundings, and we must ask those questions to the apartment complex or a friends place about preventing easy access to their pools. Because even if it does not affect you or if these scenarios would never occur based on where you are in life, it can happen to others. And awareness is not just about you preventing it from happening to your children, it is also you helping prevent it from happening to other children too. Knowledge is key!
Dr O is a pediatric intensivist in the process of completing her specialization. She wrote a couple of books at the ripe age of 16. She loves to read fantasy and dystopian books. She is a foodie and enjoys Houston’s assortment of restaurants after which she then enjoys high intensity work out.