Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Silent Slip - When Children Almost Drown

The Headlines:


School's almost out.

Pool play will soon be in full swing.

Drowning won't happen to you...

Until it does.



Every year, about this time of year,  as a news reporter, you always do that first warning story about drowning.  Then, some months later you do the second one.  The one where someone, most likely a child, died.  And sadly, throughout the Summer, you never stop those reports.  The numbers just climb.  As a person watching the news I'm sure you sit back and wonder: "what are these people thinking?"  "how can this happen?" and "I would never let something like that happen to my child..." because that's what I thought.

Until it happened to each of my children.  Separate times.  Different pools.  About the same age.


Let me preface this by saying my children, fortunately, are very much alive.  The stories I'm going to tell you about were no where near official drownings or near drownings.  In fact, what I've been told about near drownings... is that they're almost more detrimental than the real thing.  Because the person is still there, but not really.  Often, they're left brain dead.  So, when the news reports on a near drowning and you breath a sigh of relief... don't.

When I moved to Arizona, as a beach girl, I was very much against getting a pool.  Not only was the beach everything to me but I also knew someday I wanted to have kids.  I did NOT want to be a statistic.  I thought pools and I would stay friends... from a distance.  But as time marched on BP (the husband) and I determined we were in desperate need of a pool.  You see, without one, a person can't really go outside in their backyard for about 4-5 months of the year here in Arizona.  It's just too hot. You need to dunk and BBQ, dip and swing the sticks, dive and sun bathe. So when my daughter was just 2 years old we embarked upon a pool construction.


It was dreamy. I got to put it where I wanted in our back yard, design it, pick the colors and materials, add a table in the water and a huge baja step!  Right up my alley.  And when we got it... we added a pool net for safety. Yes, they're ugly but necessary.  We put another one on our current pool.


If put on properly, which ours always is, they are full proof - except when the net comes off.

****PAUSE for a short commercial***

Interested in seeing more of the net?  I made a quick video below.  Please be kind.  It was really my first attempt at this!



Back to our story.  On this day, the net was off.   It was in our first house below.


I was talking on the phone to a friend outside.  It was a cool morning and my 3 year old daughter was walking around the coping (edge) of the pool.  I remember telling her to be careful because she was about to fall in.  Within minutes, she did.  So I, went in right after her.  Clothes and all.  I got her and dried her off.  She was shaken but fine.  If I wasn't there, she would have surely drowned.  Even after years of swimming lessons.  I think the shock just left her confused, paralyzed and struggling in a foreign place... water.  It was at that moment my eyes were forever opened.  It was so quick, so quiet, so dangerous.

Of course I shared the experience with my husband and we took it very seriously.  Fast forward to several years later, a new house, a new child, a new pool, a new net... and it happened again.  Again, the net... not on.  I was just getting home from a hair appointment.  I came in to my bedroom and peered out the window to the back yard where I saw my 2 year old son hysterically crying.  I ran out to comfort his wet little self  but he was already being held by his father and wanted nothing to do with me.  That was unusual.

Here's what happened: BP was working on something in the back yard.  Both of our children were with him.  As he continued his project, he heard what he thought was a rock that one of our children had thrown in the pool.  It was a small, insignificant sound. Not even a splash.  So, he ignored it.  As the story goes, my 6 year old daughter (and very adept swimmer) stood there watching my son struggle, upside down... in the pool.  She did not move.  She could not move.  After several more seconds she calmly and softly said, "Daddy, he's in the pool..." and it was only then that my husband became aware his only little boy was in danger of dying before his eyes.  He sprang into action.  And just as I had done, years earlier, he jumped in the pool to save his son.  Just in time.

Hudson was terrified but fine.  He held on tight to Daddy for a long time... as if to say "thank you" for saving his life.

Ask BP and he'll tell you he didn't think twice of the noise he barely heard.  Most parents don't.  If my daughter wasn't there... the outcome could have been very different.  Our story... devastating.

We start our children in swim classes before they can walk, we buy barriers... but watching our children is crucial.  We all need layers of protection when it comes to water safety. Time and time again, here in Arizona and all over the world, children die in a pool when there are adults all around.  But the slip was silent.  Much like ours.

Water Safety ABC's:
Adult Supervision
Barriers (a net)
Classes

So as kids get out of school and we head into Summer pay attention to the warnings and the rules above.  Don't just hear them - act on them.  Because the slip may be silent but the consequences are loud and clear.  And I will assure you.. they'll haunt you forever.