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Toddler drowns in North Hall pool

Safety advocates urge caution as warm weather arrives

POSTED: May 1, 2014 11:28 p.m.

A 16-month-old boy died Wednesday after falling into a swimming pool at a Clermont home, according to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

Emergency medical personnel from Hall County Fire Services were first to respond around 5:10 p.m. after receiving a report of a drowning in a residential pool.

“Resuscitation efforts were already underway and the child was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center. The child was later pronounced deceased,” sheriff’s office spokesman Deputy John Marshall said Thursday in a news release.

The incident remains under investigation by the Criminal Investigations Division, Marshall said.

In light of the drowning incident, and with temperatures expected to be in the 80s this weekend, public health advocates are urging families to be safe near water.

“The main thing that we stress is access and supervision,” said Kim Martin, coordinator of the Gainesville-Hall County Safe Kids Coalition. The nonprofit child safety group is led by Northeast Georgia Medical Center and funded by The Medical Center Foundation’s Healthy Journey Campaign.

Martin said the drowning is the first locally for a child age 14 or younger since 2012, based on the organization’s data.

The Centers for the Disease control cites drowning as the No. 1 cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4, and prevention is a point of emphasis for the coalition.

Martin said more adults doesn’t necessarily equal better supervision. A water outing requires a designated adult to watch the kids.

“That happens a lot of time. There’s not that one person that’s designated to watch the children,” she said. “Especially if people get together, if there’s a barbecue or pool party, there needs to be at least one person that’s designated to watch the children. It could be in 30 minute shifts, however.”

Keeping eyes on the water is especially important as drowning, unlike as is often depicted, can occur without a distress sound uttered.

“One of our catchphrases is, ‘Drowning is quick and quiet,’” Martin said.

Caregivers should know CPR, she said, and parents should ensure that kids staying away from home are in safe atmospheres.

“They should talk with that caregiver about what’s acceptable for their child, depending on their age,” Martin said.
One misconception that can lead to accidental death or injury is the reassurance that a child can swim.

“It could be a fall, and pools drains have been another issue,” Martin said. “All drains should have guards on them to keep children’s hair or loose clothing away. That suction from the drain can pull them down.”

General pool access should be restricted by fencing all around. Just one door from home to pool is a risk, she said, and in that case at minimum the door should be locked by dead bolt.

“Kids love water. They’re attracted to water ... Kids can climb. They can push chairs and unlock doors,” she said.

Many water safety tips and precautions are most applicable to toddlers, Martin said. They are developed enough to walk and open doors, but at a point where their bodies work against them in a drowning crisis — and in any body of water, big or small.

“Toddlers, their upper body is bigger than their lower body,” Martin said. “Even buckets of water could be a danger as well. If they fall over, they have short arms and big heads and torsos. They’re sometimes not able to pull themselves out of that situation.”


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