Drowning, how to diminish the risks

How, while 20 pairs of eyes seem to look towards the pool, a child can still drown? Each summer, several small drowning victims were not alone at the time of the tragedy.

There are the victims who have sadly escaped the vigilance of adults and there are those who played in the water (or around the pool) under the watchful eye of many adults. Yet, they did not see anything. In less than a few minutes, the drama was played out. Which brings us back to our original question: how is this possible?

Victims a few meters from an adult

Drowning is one of the top five causes of death in Canada, for children aged 1 to 14 years. One of the biggest risk factors is the loosening of surveillance: in 85% of cases, an adult was within a few meters of the victim.

A trap

When several adults are standing around the pool (or on the edge of the beach), the parents or supervisors, lower their vigilance a little. After all, so many are watching the water! Unfortunately, this is what everyone says and suddenly, no one ensures direct eye contact with the little swimmers.

A simple distraction

In children aged 15 and under, lack of supervision or distraction accounted for 96% of drownings. For children 5 to 14 years old, in 44% of drownings, the victim was alone or with other minor children. It is therefore understandable that an adapted and active surveillance is the key to reduce the risks associated with swimming.

There are also near-drownings caused by lack of oxygen that can leave serious brain damage to the victims. The intervention time - the speed with which the resuscitation maneuvers are started - is therefore also very important.

The surveillance

The person responsible for monitoring bathers must be 100% focused on the task: they must not be distracted by their smartphone, a conversation with a third party or others. If the same designated person must be absent for a few minutes, they must explicitly name another supervisor and ensure that the latter has understood and can carry out the mission assigned. You must never presume.

To reduce the risk of drowning, here are some healthy habits to put in place around the water:
  • We avoid being too many in the pool.
  • Children who can not swim and / or are very little should wear flotation devices at all times: in or around the water.
  • Ideally, in addition to a supervisor on the edge of the pool (or the beach), there should always be an adult in the water, with the children.
  • We always watch children, even those who can swim.
  • Do not leave toys in the water after swimming. Thus, the temptation to bend down to catch a toy in the pool will be reduced.
  • Learn the techniques of resuscitation.
  • Take your child to swimming lessons.
  • Install barriers at least 1.2 meters high to limit access to water
  • Avoid direct access to the water.

Sources – 1. Sauvetage Québec,  Croix RougeOrganisation mondiale de la santéEnquête noyades 2018,

Image de Annie Harvey

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