Last month a two-year-old boy nearly drowned at the Vernon Aquatic Centre and now his family is speaking up about the importance of water safety.
The family, whose names are being withheld to protect their privacy, are sharing their terrifying story of almost losing their son in the hopes of saving lives and reminding everyone of the the importance of vigilance and awareness near the water.
In early June, their two-year-old son was swimming with his family, both parents plus an older and younger sibling, at Vernon Aquatic Centre when he became separated from his mother and drifted into deeper water.
His mother did a head count and realized her son wasn’t within her reach while at the same time his dad noticed him motionless in the pool and quickly moved to his son, calling for help.
The lifeguards heard the father's calls and rushed over to help.
The boy was in respiratory distress and was immediately passed to a lifeguard on the deck. The boy was unresponsive and showed serious signs including discolouration of the skin (cyanosis), a lack of movement of his chest and expelling fluid. The lifeguard initiated lifesaving procedures until the boy began showing signs of recovery.
At the same time, a second guard called 9-1-1 while a third guard followed protocol and cleared both pools. A fourth guard was radioed and arrived on deck to assist.
The ambulance arrived within seven minutes and the lifeguard team turned the care of the child, who by now was responsive, over to the paramedics and he was transferred to the hospital.
The boy was kept in hospital overnight for observations, but was home the next day and his mother reported to Vernon Recreation Services staff that he was doing fine. Two days later, he was back at the pool attending swim lessons.
“This incident is a reminder that we need to be vigilant with children when around water, especially with children under the age of seven”, said Gary Lefebvre, Aquatics Coordinator for the City of Vernon. “Drowning can occur in as little as 15-30 seconds.”
The Lifesaving Society states that the key water-smart message for parents is that if you are not within arms’ reach of your children anytime they are around water, you have gone too far away.
Unattended toddlers are also high risk because they are mobile, curious and require close and constant supervision by an adult. Children under five years of age are the least capable of self-rescue of any age group.
Lifesaving Society National Drowning Prevention Week is July 20-26, 2014 for more information visit their website.