Little ones drown silently

Pool as a death trap: how to protect your child

09.07.2024 11:45

Around three children die by drowning in Austria every year. Death in the water is usually silent and lightning-fast. A quarter of the incidents occur in private gardens, i.e. in pools or biotopes. Experts give tips on how parents can protect their children from these dangers.

In Germany, drowning is the most common cause of fatal accidents among young children under the age of five, and the second most common among five to 14-year-olds. "On average, three children drown in Austria every year. For around three more, the lack of oxygen will result in lifelong, sometimes severe disabilities," emphasizes Prof. Dr. Holger Till, President of the GROSSE SCHÜTZEN KLEINE association and Director of the University Clinic for Paediatric and Adolescent Surgery in Graz. Around 40 children have to be treated as inpatients after a drowning accident.

Danger in your own garden
Around half of accidents in the water occur in public swimming pools. However, according to experts, the chance of survival is highest there at 93 percent. The danger in your own garden is still underestimated. A quarter of drowning accidents involve private pools or biotopes and the risk of the incident ending fatally for the child is even around four times higher there than in public swimming pools, as Dr. Peter Spitzer from the Research Centre for Child Accidents of the GROSSE SCHÜTZEN KLEINE association explains.

It is therefore not only of the utmost importance that children learn to swim well as early as possible, in and around the water - especially the youngest children - should be given one hundred percent attention by their parents. The average age of children involved in drowning incidents in the garden is two years. The following safety tips should therefore be adhered to at all times:

Allgemeine Regel in der Nähe von Wasser
  • Always supervise children in and around water until they can swim very well and are at least 10 years old!
  • Do not rely on swimming aids! They do not offer reliable protection.
  • Children wearing conspicuous, neon-colored swimwear can be found more quickly if the worst comes to the worst (especially in murky waters).
  • Do not leave older siblings in charge!
  • Teach small children to only go in and out of the water with adults, and older children to only ever swim in pairs!
  • If children have disappeared: Always look where there is water first!
  • Non-slip bathing shoes are recommended, at least for smaller children, in paddling pools and swimming pools.
  • Discuss the most important bathing rules with your child!
  • Be careful with groups of children, especially during puberty: more children, more "creativity" and "imposing behavior". Explain to your children that it can be a fine line between fun and seriousness, especially when diving, jumping and sliding!
Besondere Maßnahmen bei privaten Pools/Teichen
  • Secure pools/biotopes/ponds with a 1.5 m high fence and self-closing door or equip them with a lockable enclosure.
  • Think carefully: Do you really need a private pool now or would you prefer to wait until the children are older and can already swim (well)?
  • There are electronic safety systems for private pools that sound the alarm if a child goes into the water unattended or is in danger of drowning.
  • At children's parties and barbecues, an adult must always supervise what is happening at the pool.
  • Create a safe pool environment (watch out for stones, sharp edges/corners)!
  • "High pool": Be aware of the danger of falling off the ladder and falling over the edge of the pool!

 Children drown within a few minutes, silently and from a depth of just a few centimeters. Due to the death reflex, which lasts until the age of three. The glottis closes, the child can no longer cry or move and loses consciousness extremely quickly. Respiratory arrest occurs after just four to five minutes under water.

In order to be able to react quickly and correctly in an emergency, Prof. Dr. Till recommends that parents and carers attend a child emergency course.

This article has been automatically translated,
read the original article here.

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