When temperatures rise, we often find ourselves seeking a spot by, or in, the water. And that’s why it’s important to make sure our children R.E.S.P.E.C.T. the pools, lakes and waterparks they frequent this time of year.

According to Marvin Mata, M.D., a pediatric intensivist at Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital, childhood drowning is an issue. “it is the leading cause of unintentional death in children between the ages of 1 and 4 and the 2nd leading cause of death in ages 5 to 14,” Dr. Mata said. “In addition, here in Louisiana, we rank 2nd in the nation in infant and child drownings each year. So we could potentially save countless lives by following strict water safety rules.”

Experts suggest using R.E.S.P.E.C.T. as a reminder. The letters stand for:

  • Recognition
  • Education
  • Supervision
  • Physical Barriers
  • Expectations
  • Communication
  • Training

“Drowning is a very real threat, anytime, anywhere,” Dr. Mata said. “Those who are supervising need to know the signs of a non-swimmer. Know how to recognize when they are in trouble. Know the environment and the abilities of each swimmer.”

It’s also important that adults and parents – or those supervising children – know how to swim and how to perform CPR.

“It’s important that they know how to swim so they can rescue them from the water,” Dr. Mata said. “But once you get them from the water it is especially important that you can begin first aid and CPR immediately. In these circumstances, minutes matter.”

Secondary Drowning or Dry Drowning

Secondary drowning and dry drowning are also concerns when kids are spending time in water. Secondary drowning occurs when water gets into a child’s lungs and builds up, causing a condition called pulmonary edema. Dry drowning happens when water only reaches as far as a child’s vocal cords, causing them to spasm and close up.

Both conditions can cause immediate breathing trouble to up to 24 hours later. If after spending time in the water a child has consistent coughing, chest pain, trouble breathing, or extreme fatigue, it’s vital to provide him or her with emergency care.

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Follow these steps for a fun, safe summer!