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How to prevent drowning? Look, don't just listen

12:29 PM, Jun 11, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- With swimming comes the danger of drowning. We have looked into the steps you should take to look out for your kids.

The biggest misconception about drowning is that it is loud and easy to spot. In reality, drowning is often silent.

"That's Hollywood," said Geoff Menard of Poseidon Technology about the misconceptions about how drowning occurs. "To actually see a drowning person, it's not like that. They may flail on top of the water, but once they get into distress and go under, most of the time, they're gonna stop moving. They're gonna go motionless and limp."

In the last ten years, the number of drowning deaths in Georgia has gone up. The state now averages roughly 120 drowning deaths per year; that's around ten per month.

According to Julie Koriakin, executive director at the Cowart Family YMCA, "Drowning is is the #1 form of accidental, inadvertent death among children ages 1-14."

"Usually we see two groups (in the emergency room)," said Dr. Scott Batchelor of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "There are the younger kids, toddler age, and then the teenagers, 13-15."

Most of the literature on drowning prevention preaches one important step: always have visual contact with your child in the pool. Don't just rely on what you can hear.

Said Koriakin, "We always advise parents to stay at arm's length of children when they're in the pool."

Those with home pools should take additional advice:

  • Remove any toys from the pool area when it's not in use, to keep kids from going near the area.
  • Do not rely on flotation devices to keep kids safe; they should never substitute for adult supervision.
  • Install a four-foot-high fence around all sides of the pool, along with a locked gate that's beyond a child's reach.
Meanwhile, YMCAs across metro Atlanta have installed cameras by Poseidon Technology, both above and underwater.

"The camera follows a distressed person to the bottom of the pool," explains Menard. "Once that person is motionless for 10 seconds, that alarm will sound."


For more information about drowning prevention, there are several great tip sheets online:

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For more stories by Matt Pearl, you can follow him on Facebook and Twitter, or read his blog at http://tellingthestoryblog.com.

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