Water presents a natural hazard for babies and toddlers - if you have a pond in the garden, ask yourself if it is really necessary, and how you can make it safe should you decide to keep it. A toddler can drown in as little as 2 inches of water; their face might fall into shallow water which they ingest, blocking the natural airflow to their lungs. Toddlers falling into water become disorientated and may not be able to pull away. Drowning has become the number one cause of accidental death in children. For every child killed by drowning, 4 more are treated in the emergency room for submersion-related accidents, many suffering permanent brain damage.
A young child can drown in just a few seconds - far quicker than the five minutes you might take your eyes off them in order to make a coffee. Drowning can be quick and quiet - you will not be aware what is going on until it could be too late. Should you discover a child who has fallen into water and has stopped breathing, start CPR immediately - there is a good chance of recovery for some time after breathing has stopped.
Ponds, pools and spa's make for the most dangerous water hazards in the garden. You might consider draining a pond until your children are older, why not turn it into a sand pit for them? If you keep a pond, or have a pool or spa, make sure that they are adequately protected - put up a small fence to keep children away, or consider installing an alarm such as a premiter or gate alarm, to warn you when your child is approaching the hazard.
Even baths pose a danger for babies and toddlers. Water ingested accidentally can lead to 'dry drowning' at a later stage. Before water enters the lungs, it passes through the larynx - this causes involuntary muscle spasms to relieve the water, this interferes with regular breathing and can cause death through a lack of oxygen. This can occur several hours after water is ingested, so be very aware throughout the bathing process and never take your eyes off your baby.
Always take care when your children are near water, and be alert for signs that they may have ingested water - coughing, choking or breathing difficulties. Drowning is a needless waste of life, and the most tragic accident any family can face.
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