Serious Water Safety Post Is Serious
Although our trip to the beach was full of super fun days in the beach and the pool, the seriousness of watching two kids around so much water hit me on the very first day.
The Kiawah beach is very narrow at high tide and very wide at low tide, with several low spots that create pools perfect for wading. The water was only knee-deep on the grown ups and perfectly calm. It looked like the perfect spot to let the kids splash around for a few minutes. The ratio was three adults to three kids, which meant we had six eyes open at all times but it also meant it was easy to get a few steps too far away because you assumed someone else was closer.
We were actually all watching Caroline as she stepped off the sand into the water – and fell right on her face. She didn’t move. She didn’t splash. So didn’t struggle. She just floated, face down, as my friend Erin and I sprinted the three steps across tide pool. Erin reached her half a second before I did and scooped her up, handing her off to me so I could make sure she was breathing – although at that point I wasn’t breathing either. She sputtered and coughed a little, her wide eyes even wider than usual. She clung to me hard, but besides spitting out about a tablespoon of sea water she was totally fine. She wasn’t keen on being put down for a few minutes but an hour later when we went in the pool she was once again completely fearless around the water. I’m glad she hasn’t been scarred for life – but it is a moment I will never forget.
My friend Elliot sent me an article called “Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning” a day or so after I told him about Caroline’s accident. I’ve seen it before on Facebook, but until I experienced a child I knew to be in distress holding perfectly still in the water I didn’t understand just how easy it would be to miss the 30 second window you get before someone drowns.
From the article:
To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC).
I knew my 18 month old wasn’t able to swim so when she fell in the water my reaction was yanking her out as fast as humanly possible. But if she’d been further away or I hadn’t been paying attention – even for just a few moments – there would have been zero signs to alert me. It’s extremely scary to think about.
I know this is kind of a downer and not the sort of fun, post-vacation stories people are looking for, but I’d rather you all roll your eyes at me and think “yeah, yeah, we’ve heard this all before” than not ever hear it and experience any kind of tragedy. Stay safe friends!