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Experts fear COVID-19 social restrictions could lead to more child drownings

Health experts worry child drownings will rise as more families stay home because of COVID-19.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Health experts believe child drownings could rise this summer as more families stay home because of COVID-19.

The more time families spend in their homes, the higher the likelihood of an accident involving a family pool, according to Jesus Alderete, lead coordinator for Know Before You Go, the water safety program at Children’s Health.

“Unfortunately, more so than any other time, in previous years, those risks increase by kids that are wandering in and around the water,” Alderete said.

Keeping our kids safe by the water is always a concern, but it's especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics

"As children are at home more due to social isolation recommendations, they may have more access to pools, bathtubs, and other sources of water – all of which pose a drowning risk,” said Dr. Ben Hoffman, Mchair of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence & Poison Prevention.

Drowning is the leading cause of death in kids ages 1-4, according to the AAP.

The opening of public pools has been delayed in most communities, leaving families with fewer options to let their kids cool down and fend off the boredom of staying at home.

As temperatures rise and the school year ends, more and more parents are buying small inflatable or plastic pools, but Alderete warns those could give parents a false sense of security. 

“It only takes an inch of water for kids to drown in,” Alderete said.  “So especially for those families who have above-ground pools, it’s essential for them to not leave toys or anything else the kids might be attracted to when there’s no adult supervision in and around the water.”

Children’s Health urges parents to follow these pool safety guidelines

  • Assign an adult to supervise the pool at all times.
  • Maintain constant visual contact with children in the pool.
  • Never leave a child alone in a pool or spa even for a second.
  • Do not permit diving in the shallow end of the pool.
  • Keep a telephone near the pool. In case of emergency, dial 911.
  • Keep non-pool toys like big wheels, wagons, tricycles, etc. away from the pool.
  • Remove inflatable toys from the pool when not in use.
  • Never allow swimming in an unlit pool after dark.
  • Use life jackets for kids who need assistance swimming.
  • Keep pool safety devices nearby.

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