Friday, July 10, 2015

Historic Spring Rains Bring Summer Drowning Risk

Lakes and rivers across the state are at the highest levels they have been in a long time, tempting Texans with the promise of a cool escape from the typical sweltering summer. But the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) says these downpours also brought an increased risk of drownings. Whether a raging river or a tiny pool, water can pose a threat to children; so the agency reminds families to watch little ones at all times around water.

“Water levels and rivers are high. Stream and creek beds are now flowing, posing more danger to children — particularly toddlers — who are not properly supervised,” DFPS wrote in a news release.

DFPS also cautions apartment pools can be especially dangerous because they tend to have no lifeguards on duty. This point was made tragically clear when three siblings — aged 9, 10, and 11 — were pulled from an Irving apartment complex in June.

Drowning has claimed the lives of 43 children in Texas this year, including seven over the long Fourth of July weekend. Seventy-three children drowned in Texas last year.

“Drowning is not what you think,” Dallas Judge John Specia, DFPS commissioner, said in the release. “It’s quick and silent and happens before you know it. I urge all Texans to keep a very close watch on children as they head outdoors. And watch a child closely any time around water.

“We can all make a difference just by being more aware of what is happening around us,” he said.

DFPS created a list of basic water safety tips for both outside and inside the house:

Outside the house

  • Never leave children alone around water whether it is in a pool, wading pool, drainage ditch, creek, pond, or lake.
  • Constantly watch children who are swimming or playing in water. They need an adult or certified lifeguard watching and within reach.
  • Secure access to swimming pools with fences, self-closing and -latching gates, and water surface alarms.
  • Completely remove the pool cover when the pool is in use.
  • Store and secure water toys away from the water when not in use, so they don’t attract a small child.
  • Don’t assume young children will use good judgment around water.
  • Be ready for emergencies. Keep emergency telephone numbers handy and learn CPR.
  • Find out if your child’s friends or neighbors have pools.

Inside the house

  • Never leave small children alone near any container of water.
  • Keep bathroom doors closed and secure toilet lids with lid locks.
  • Never leave a baby alone in a bath for any reason. Get what you need before running water, and take the child with you if you must leave the room.
  • Warn babysitters or caregivers about the dangers of water and emphasize the need to constantly supervise young children.
  • Make sure small children cannot leave the house through pet doors or unlocked doors to reach pools or hot tubs.

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