Natalie Jones Pantaleon
Sunday Survival Story! Drowning knows no season.
NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – At least two North Texas children have drowned in bathtubs this year and Children’s Health experts tell CBS 11 that even the backyard pool can be more deadly during the winter because it’s not a danger that’s top of mind.
“I hear ‘Mom!’ and that’s when I just freaked!” says Stephanie Reese of DeSoto. The mother of four says she and her husband are often teased for being over-protective parents.
So they thought two locks on the door to the backyard and backyard pool were sufficient.
They didn’t realize that their home’s shifting foundation was keeping one of them from fully engaging. She was just steps away when Keion, then 2 years old, wandered outside.
An older brother found him at the bottom of the pool. Reese admits that she momentarily “freaked” and then her faith kicked in.
“I am a Christian,” says Reese. “I believe the word of God. So, I looked at him and said, in the name of Jesus, Devil you cannot have this baby. And I just started CPR.”
Whether a backyard pool, a bathtub or even a bucket, Children’s Health experts say it only takes an inch of water for a child to drown, and mere seconds for inattention to turn deadly.
“Fast,” Jesus Alderete, a Senior Coordinator of Injury Prevention Services at Children’s Health. “Really fast.
Drowning is a silent killer, it’s not like the movies. Just enough time to step away to grab a towel, 10 seconds, that’s enough time for a child to suffer an incident.”
Alderete says pools are more deadly in winter because when a child disappears, pools are often not the first place that parents search, so rescues are delayed.
Reese says Keion’s brain was deprived of oxygen for about an hour.
“When I get to the hospital and I touch his foot and it’s cold. Like, okay, all signs point to death, but I wouldn’t accept death.”
Keion spent two months in the hospital and is even now still undergoing therapy.
Therapists at Our Children’s House in Waxahachie are helping him rebuild his motor and verbal skills.
Now, a busy, charming, 4-year-old, he is also proving that he is a warrior, fighting his way back from a dire prognosis.
“They thought he would be a vegetable, that’s what they thought,” says Reese while acknowledging that no one said the words, but doctors warned her about the tough road ahead. “He could not do anything. He couldn’t even look at us. He couldn’t track with his eyes. He couldn’t do any of that.”
Two years later, the journey has been challenging and yet the family celebrates every new victory and encourages others to layer security around backyard pools.
“July or January, I would say triple protect,” says Reese.
From all of us at the PPCD, we are so grateful that this boy survived. His mom performed CPR and he received the medical care he needed.
This family so graciously shared their story to remind parents to ALWAYS CHECK POOL FIRST when a child is M.I.A., even during cooler months when “swimming“ may not be on our minds.
As we approach winter, it’s an important reminder that drownings happen year round and we must protect our children from drownings year round. Drownings typically occur during non swim times so children are generally dressed in normal clothes.
For more information on implementing layers of protection, including high quality swim lessons, please visit www.parentspreventingchildhooddrowning.com