Is there a risk of drowning at home?
Most people are not aware that drowning can take place anywhere and anytime. Parents tend to be vigilant whenever they bring their children to the pool or beach; however, is there a possibility for drowning to occur at home?
Throughout the past 10 years, I have seen children drowning at home in bathtubs, buckets, water tanks, fish ponds, and even inflatable pools. The oldest patient was a 9-year-old boy who tripped headfirst into a bucket of water! In most cases, parents would often say, “I just saw him….he was in the kitchen just a moment ago… I just turned around and she was missing!” Indeed, drowning is silent, and it only takes a minute.
In Malaysia, drowning is the major cause of death in children, ranking second after road traffic accidents, for children aged 1-18 years. About 500 unfortunate children drown each year in Malaysia. About 90% of these cases occur below the age of 10 years, more so in children less than 5 years.
Most non-fatal drowning victims recover fully. However, in children with severe brain damage; memory problems, learning difficulty, or severe loss of basic functioning, i.e. permanent vegetative state is possible.
How do you reduce the risk of drowning at home?
✅ Children, especially those below 5 years, should never be left unsupervised in the bathroom.
✅ Always keep the toilet lid down to prevent children from accidentally falling headfirst into the toilet.
✅ Remove all sources of standing water. Drain bathtubs, keep buckets empty and turned upside-down, cover water tank with a heavy lid. For households who are still using water storage, be sure to empty it after bathing.
✅ For any water activities involving children, a dedicated adult should be around to observe without any distractions. Hence, no phones, no books, no socializing, just full concentration ahead! The use of life-vest or floaties should never replace adult supervision.
✅ Inflatable pools should be drained and deflated after usage.
✅ For families with swimming pool, installing a 4-sided gated fence around it will prevent children from coming close to the water.
✅ Put sturdy grills or fences around fish ponds or better yet fill it up to transform it into a flowerbed or sandpit while the children are still young.
Drowning is a preventable tragedy. Hence, be cautious and eliminate all sources of standing water in your home.
1. Dr Amar-Singh HSS : Why are so many Malaysian children drowning in hotel swimming pools and theme parks – Malaymail Monday, 04 Nov 2019 https://www.malaymail.com/…/why-are-so-many-malaysi…/1806564
2. Sarah A. Denny et al.: Prevention of drowning from American Academy of Pediatrics May 2019, 143 (5) e20190850; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-0850
3. Unintentional drowning: Get the Facts https://www.cdc.gov/…/water-sa…/waterinjuries-factsheet.html
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