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Drowning

Drowning can easily occur in infants and toddlers. They are not able to fully protect themselves such that drowning may occur in bathtubs, containers or pails. Pre-school children tend to drown in the drains, ditches, wells and pools. School children on the other hand tend to drown in streams, rivers and lake near their houses. In majority of the cases the main contributing factor is lack of adult supervision.

Sign & symptoms

Drowning occurs very quickly and without warning.

Complications

Permanent brain damage can occur in near-drowning cases.

Treatment

The child should be brought to the hospital immediately. If he is not breathing, start the basic life support measures.

In the hospital, the child will be assessed and examined for complications. Depending on degree of severity, the care of child will include :

  • Breathing support with oxygen therapy
  • Decompression of the stomach with tube to allow adequate lung expansion
  • Provision of adequate glucose and oxygen to the brain to minimise permanent brain injury
  • Treatment of other associated injuries and complications

Prevention

  1. At home
    • Make sure that there is an adult around whenever a child is in or near water.
    • Never leave a baby or child in tub alone and unattended. If you need to answer the telephone or get the towel, take the child with you.
    • Empty water container or pail when not in use. Turn the empty container or pail upside down.
    • Cover any collection of water in or out of the house.
  2. At the swimming pool
    • Advise your child not to eat or chew gum while swimming, diving or playing in the water.
    • Check whether there is a qualified life-guard when swimming. If there is no lifeguard, never leave your child unattended in or near the pool.
    • Fence up home swimming pools.
    • Personal floating devices (floats) to be used for children when swimming or when in boats/ water scooters/ surfboards.
    • Use bathing caps when swimming to prevent hair from being sucked into suction drains in swimming pools.
    • Make certain swimming pool suction drains are covered.
  3. Other water areas
    • Teach children and teenagers about the dangers of swimming in unauthorized areas without adult supervision. Advise teenage children not to accept challenges from friends.
    • Alert children about the danger of playing near monsoon drains.
    • Get yourself trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Key swimming rules for your children

  • Always swim with friends or parents
  • Don’t dive head first into water
  • Don’t push or jump on others
  • Be prepared for any emergency
Last reviewed : 26 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Norraliza Md Zain
Reviewer : Dr. Fuziah bt. Md. Zain