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A silent death

July 8, 2010

Last week, when Randall Cunningham’s 21/2 year old son Christian drowned in a hot tub, the logical questions that followed were, “How could this have happened?” and “Who was watching him?”

Joseph Torg, a clinical adjunct professor of  Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at the Temple University medical school, says that despite the popular myth of kids thrashing around and screaming as they’re drowning, it actually happens quickly and quietly.

“Children just sink and drown,” he said.  “Once submerged, they become disoriented and oblivious to the change in environment, from air to liquid.”

Torg says that because it can happen so quickly, drowning can occur even  in crowded pools with a trained lifeguard on duty, so children require constant supervision, even in these environments.

To help parents keep their children safe around the pool, he offers these suggestions:

  • Make sure pools are fenced, gated or covered,
  • Outfit children with personal flotation devices (such as water wings), not just in pools, but any body of water, and
  • Teach children to swim by age 5.
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