Pool drownings are a quick, silent, and preventable trauma

The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) Trauma Centre is issuing an urgent alert and appeal to families who own a pool or who have access to a pool to ensure all safety measures are in place to avoid a preventable drowning tragedy.

The MCH Emergency Department (ED) has seen 2 children under the age of 5 lose their lives by drowning in backyard pools this past week alone. Pool drownings are most often preventable. These tragedies are usually a result of gates being left open, broken locks, no fencing installed around the pool, and/or adults whose supervision became distracted for too long.

MCH Trauma Director Debbie Friedman, ED Medical Director Dr. Laurie Plotnick, and Sylvie Levesque, Nurse Manager of the Pediatric ED, emphasize the following life-saving measures to greatly reduce the chances of a child drowning:

·         Ensure adequate fencing around your pool (4-sided, self-locking fence of least 1.2 meters high);

·         Ensure there is no direct access to a pool from your home;

·         Ensure the gate to the pool is closed and locked when not in use;

·         Ensure proper supervision of children when in or around a pool, which means watching the child and water at all times. It only takes seconds of distraction for a child to be at risk of drowning.

In Canada, drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related deaths for children between 1-4-years-old and the fourth leading cause of death in children under 14. According to the Canadian Red Cross, approximately 60 children under 14 and another 140 are hospitalized after nearly drowning every year. Over 50 percent of drowning deaths occur around swimming pools, many in private homes with unfenced or inadequately fenced swimming pools. 

Ms. Friedman, Dr. Plotnick and Ms. Levesque ask parents to consider enrolling their children in swimming courses at an early age and should consider taking a CPR course, themselves. We all need to work together to ensure that a nice summer day does not turn into a life altering tragic event!