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Children May Be At Higher Risk of Drowning This Summer

The pandemic poses new safety challenges around water. Parents should be ready.

Rebecca Mock

By Lisa L. Lewis

  • May 22, 2020

The summer of 2020 is shaping up to be anything but normal. Will camps be open? What about day care? What will kids stuck at home do all day long? With so many families sheltering in place and parents juggling work and child-care responsibilities, drowning is probably low on the list of concerns. But it’s this exact scenario that can lead to kids being unsupervised around water — even momentarily — with tragic results.

Jenny Bennett, an emergency-room nurse and mother of four from Tomball, Texas, experienced it firsthand. On July 9, 2016, Bennett’s 18-month-old son, Jackson, exited the house through an unlocked doggie door and ended up facedown in the shallow end of their backyard pool. “It was kind of a fluke that the dog door was left open and he was unknowingly unsupervised. We thought he was safe upstairs with his sisters playing,” she said. “It was about five minutes.”

Jackson’s skin was still warm and pink when she found him. “As a nurse, I had some hope,” she said. She pulled him from the water and realized he wasn’t responsive, then immediately started CPR and rescue breathing.

He was first taken to the hospital where she works. “There I was, surrounded by my co-workers,” she said, “as they tried to resuscitate my son.” Jackson was then flown to another hospital; after four days on life support, he was declared brain-dead.

Bennett subsequently co-founded Parents Preventing Childhood Drowning and now does outreach to parents and pediatricians. “I don’t remember a single discussion about drowning or drowning prevention with any of my children’s pediatricians throughout their well-checks,” she said. “I felt like I was just completely oblivious and naïve.”

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