Water Safety: How You Can Help

Chezik Tsunoda
No More Under

Being a mom of four boys 6 and under, my life was intense, non-stop…and I loved it. My husband worked full time and I stayed home running kids to school and activities between naps and breastfeeding. Our family seemed like a well-oiled machine.

Almost two years ago, we were swimming at a friend’s house with 7 kids between 4 adults who were in and out of the pool. At some point our 6-year-old said that our 3-year-old, Yori, was “winning the contest for holding his breath the longest.” Before even fully realizing what had happened, we were pulling our child out of the water and terror began to flood in.  We attempted CPR while the first responders were called.  They were able to get a pulse after 20 minutes and get him to the hospital, but it was already too late.

I have since started a non-profit organization dedicated to water safety and drowning prevention.  I’ve had the opportunity to connect with many parents who’ve had a similar experience, and a common goal that has been adopted by so many of us is increasing awareness around the dangers of water.  It’s something that we all instinctively know–people can drown in water. When it comes to children, it’s the speed in which it happens, and the small amounts of water in which it’s possible. The fact that it’s the number one reason our children don’t make it to kindergarten completely changes the game and may catch parents off-guard. Hearing those words alone gives new power to this danger and is easy to digest.

You can help
Pediatricians are naturally one of the best checkpoints we have in this system to help increase awareness and put things into perspective. It may be small nuances in the way information is delivered that can get parents to appropriately adjust behavior. Unfortunately, there is so much information that has to be packed into well checks, which are never quite long enough. I sympathize with both the parent who is trying to make sense of so many potential dangers and the pediatrician eager to mention everything while struggling for patient/parent face time.

I urge you to discuss water safety with parents as well as your teenage patients year-round. We as parents listen to you and your words have weight. It might not be the first or second visit when this information is internalized, but it could be the third.  We owe it to our children and our communities to make this a priority.