In the blink of an eye

It’s true what they say…

…accidents happen in the blink of an eye.

They do. It’s cliche. But when it comes to children (toddlers in particular) and water, it’s tragically true.

Already in our area, this past week has seen 1 toddler drown in their backyard pool and one in critical condition after falling into a pool.

Accidental drownings among children spike during this time of year.

It’s the leading cause of death in children ages 1-4. (CDC)

I’ll never forget those horrifying and paralyzing moments of my little sister’s near drowning in our backyard pool. She was 3 and I was 6. In an instant she went from munching on a cookie to lying face down in our pool.

It was silent. Instantaneous.

She was inches from me and yet I didn’t have the strength to pull her out.

I was paralyzed.

It seemed like an eternity before I got my mom’s attention (though in reality it was seconds) and by then my older sister had her out of the pool. What followed was a chaos of screaming, crying, and my mom performing CPR on my unconscious little sister.

I’ll never forget our neighbor hopping over the fence, just like that after hearing the frantic cries for help.

I’ll never forget my older sister crying and yelling because her “sister was dying”.

I’ll never forget my mom succeeding in reviving her before the paramedics arrived.

And I’ll never forget thanking God that she would be okay.

It literally all happened in the blink of an eye.

Just like it did recently for this mom, whose toddler gained access to their backyard pool through an open gate. Thankfully, they noticed and reached her just in time as she was sinking to the deep end of the pool.

Again, it was silent. No warning. No splashing. Just an accident. A gate inadvertently left open.

Then there was the time my daughter jumped right in to a friend’s pool. She was 3. The hubs was thankfully right there.

This time of year, we hear of too many accidental drownings in children. We absolutely need to be aware and remain vigilant with kids and any body of water.

Young children are enticed by water. They are unpredictable around it. So please remember these key water safety rules:

  • Stay in “touch” with your toddler around water. Touch supervision is a must.
  • Remember that toddlers are top heavy, they can drown in just inches of water. If they lose their balance in a “kiddie” or “wading” pool they may be unable to right themselves and their faces remain submerged. It’s scary but true. Another reason to stay in “touch”.
  • Make sure your pool has a 4 sided, self-latching, self-locking fence that surrounds the entire pool.
  • Assign a “watcher” at parties where there is a pool. Don’t assume someone else is watching the children.
  • Remember that drowning is silent. Don’t think you will hear splashing or cries for help.
  • Yes, enroll your child in swim lessons but do not assume this makes them drown proof. (AAP)
  • Learn CPR
  • Stay vigilant. Do not let your guard down, please.

For more detailed water safety tips, please read this post and these important tips from the CDC and AAP.

These personal stories of close calls and tragedies are important to read and share. You just never know who you may reach at a certain moment in time, ready to make some important changes to their water safety routine.

What stories or close calls do you have to share about children and water?


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12 Responses to In the blink of an eye
  1. Sheila
    June 7, 2012 | 10:23 am

    Living in Arizona with a very high pool ratio, we have WAY too many drownings each year. Yes, some are the tragic accidents in the canal or bathtub, but a majority of them are in backyard pools. It is so sad. When my Son was 8 months old I enrolled him in Parent/Tot swim classes. He is now age 5 and has been taking swim classes ever since. I love our swim school. Initially they don’t teach kids how to swim, they teach kids how to in water. Additionally, research has shown that it has aided in their development. I encourage ALL parents to get swim survival lessons for all their children!

  2. Katie Pink, RN, MSN, CPNP
    June 7, 2012 | 3:57 pm

    My daughter did the same thing your 3 year old did. I had a group of work friends over. My daughter told them to “watch” as she proceeded to go down the steps in the deep end of the pool and start to swim, but she couldn’t… She was a few feet away from the side when my friends had a split second discussion about whether or not she was able to swim. A friend that was 20 weeks pregnant decided the answer was “NO” and jumped in to save her. I was inside getting ice. I came out and my friend was coming out of the pool with my daughter, my heart dropped!! It wasn’t the first time I’ve witnessed a child being pulled out. Fortunately, someone was always right there to help. My son did something similar right in front of my parents and I in Florida one year. There is no doubt, it happens literally “in the blink of an eye”!! Thanks for the advice. I plan to share it on my blog!

  3. […] some lifesaving advice. Melissa shares some great “Water Safety Rules”. Read her post  In the Blink of an eye, it is truly eye opening!! Thanks for sharing such great advice, […]

  4. Yas
    June 8, 2012 | 1:00 am

    We live an apartment building with a few pools for different ages. My husband & I were in the baby pool with our twin boys who are 19 months old. There was a large life size blow-up dolphin toy that another child had brought into the pool that the boys were excited to play with. It took one glance in the opposite direction from both myself & my husband & one of my sons was underwater, struggling to lift his head & get back on his feet properly. Thank God we were right there & able to get to him immediately & he was just coughing & shaken. I will never forget the look on my other son’s face as he stood & watched knowing something was wrong but not knowing what to do. My son must have slipped or lost his balance when playing with the blow-up toy. It happened so quietly & so quickly. Staying in “touch” with your toddler is absolutely essential, as well as never looking away.

  5. Kassy Clifford
    June 8, 2012 | 10:03 pm

    If your child can walk, your child can swim. There is no excuse for parents not getting their children into survival swim lessons, especially if they have a pool. It takes approximately 3- 15 minute classes for me to teach children to swim. Less than an hour to save a life. I encourage all of you to get your children lessons ASAP.

  6. Nina
    June 9, 2012 | 12:44 am

    Thank you! A great reminder to stay aware of this serious danger. It’s so easy to get lax because we think our toddler is “good” around pools as long as we have our eye on her, but it just means she hasn’t tried to get in on her own YET. This was a wake up call for me and my husband to start making sure we use “touch supervision” when were visiting relatives! Thanks again.

  7. Julie
    June 9, 2012 | 2:28 pm

    Infant swimming resource is a program that teaches infants and toddlers and children self rescue swimming skills they can use if they reach the water alone. Pass that info along!!!!

  8. Claire
    June 10, 2012 | 1:20 pm

    To this day, I am terrified of getting my head below water because I nearly drowned as a small child (aged 4? 5?) It’s one of my earliest memories. I was floating on one of those plastic rafts, and my sister knocked me over. As I went down, I remember seeing the trees waving through the water and feeling so calm and quiet. It wasn’t until I was back above water with my whole family screaming and my father pushing water out of my mouth that I realized that I had almost died.

    It still haunts me. I was terrified of the shower and even the bath for many years. Now I can splash around in water, but absolutely cannot get my head below water without panicking. I wash my hair by dipping my head backwards into the tub. As a mother of a newly toddling child, I am hypervigilant with my daughter. I hope and pray that she never has reason to feel that same fear that I did.

  9. Jen F
    June 11, 2012 | 11:23 am
  10. Summer Safety | My Two Hats
    June 24, 2012 | 10:28 pm

    […] Swanson’s, “Your Friend’s Pool: Drowning Risk” and Dr. Melissa Arca’s “In the blink of an eye” for important water safety […]

  11. Stefanie
    July 2, 2012 | 12:57 pm

    Your story is terrifying. Thank you for these reminders!

  12. Aqua-Tots Swim Schools - Phoenix
    July 25, 2013 | 2:13 pm

    Thank you for sharing this post! Water safety is primary concern for any family with small children in the Phoenix area. Just as Sheila said, there are so many pools here that pose a danger to young kids. It will help for parents to follow these tips – the most important being enrolling children in swim lessons. While swim lessons do not make children completely “drown proof,” it is a crucial step in drowning prevention. Yes – thank you again for these important reminders.