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What to Do in a Water Emergency / Drowning

Parents Must Be Ready For Water Emergencies!

As the weather heats up in Southern California so does the risk of drowning. Drowning is the second leading cause of fatalities in the pediatric population, and about 20% of these drowning occur in the presence of an adult or care provider.

The overriding emphasis should be focused primarily on prevention. Should these measures fail, the immediate focus is then on CPR, even before the arrival of the paramedics.

A recent study, published by the Department of Emergency Medicine at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW, Australia tends to confirm what is already well established. Bystander CPR is a major factor for a good outcome in near-drowning episodes.  During an 11 day period in January 2007 (Summer in Australia), eight children experienced drowning or near-drowning events. Four of the victims received CPR within 5 minutes of immersion and survived with good functional neurological outcomes (no brain damage). The other four were not discovered for over 5 minutes, and all of these children died.

Experts in the field of emergency medicine acknowledge that survival of drowning victims is usually a result of immediate CPR, prior to the paramedics coming. Many of those who survive are already conscious and breathing by the time an emergency responder arrives.


If we hope to give the victim a chance of survival, CPR needs to be started IMMEDIATELY upon getting the victim out of the water. IF ALONE with the victim, perform CPR for at least 2 minutes before attempting to call 9-1-1. The current CPR guideline for drowning victims is 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths (for a baby or toddler, cover both the nose and mouth with your mouth for the breaths). This is the same technique for victims on dry land.  Watch this video for a basic review of infant CPR - for a full hands-on workshop including the new compression guidelines, check out the monthly Infant & Toddler CPR and Family Safety Class held at A Mother's Haven.

Remember, the key emphasis is always on prevention. The gold standard of safety with babies & children is to remain within arms reach and always focused on them, especially around pools, tubs, and other bodies of water.

Have a safe and fun summer season!

Article written by: Richard Pass, RN, BS, of Save a Little Life, who teaches our Infant & Toddler CPR and Family Safety Class, which are held about once a month here at A Mother's Haven Boutique & Educational Center in San Fernando Valley.

Richard Pass, RN, BS is the founder of “Save A Little Life” Inc, a local provider of both CPR and First-Aid for infants &children. He has been a Registered Nurse & Health Educator for over 30 years. He is on staff at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and is currently a part-time clinical instructor of nursing at California State University, Northridge. The goal for Save a Little Life is to provide a simpler, more “user friendly” CPR course for parents, grandparents, and caregivers.


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