Let me start off by saying my son is alive and well. He’s 3 years old and very spunky and smart. He loves to play pretend and gives the best snuggles. The decision to share our story wasn’t an easy one. I wrestled with the idea for many reasons. Harsh judgment, ridicule, and most of all we’re still in a state of shock and healing. We have a tremendous amount of guilt and we will be working through those feelings for the rest of our lives.
I have always prided myself on being a caring and loving mom. I mean this couldn’t happen to us we’re hyper vigilant when it comes to our children. As for my husband he’s a super hands on dad who loves his children more then anything. In fact, if I could make the perfect father for my children it would be him. Through this experience we have learned accidents happen in the blink of an eye. We’re not perfect but thank god we’re able to learn from this experience. Kids don’t come with a handbook for every possible scenario and we’ve learned just how fragile and precious life really is. With my sons birthday quickly approaching I thought what a better way to celebrate his life then to hopefully save another child’s life. If you cast judgment I can live with it because I’ve learned that the only thing that matters to us is that we have our son and our family is together. If this story helps save someone else we feel even more blessed.
It was a Saturday late afternoon. We were at our friends house for swimming and a BBQ. All of the children were done swimming and got out of the pool. My husband dried our youngest son off and put him in dry clothes. I said, “I’m going into the kitchen to help with dinner.” He said, “Ok”.
During this time my older son was playing with the other kids and my younger son stayed by my husband. He said, “Daddy I want to go back in the pool”. My husband was talking to another dad, he said ok and put his bathing suit back on and continued his conversation. During this time our younger son walked over to the pool and saw a toy gun floating in the water. He reached in to grab it and fell in! It all happened so fast and there was no sound from him falling in (He does not know how to swim and has to wear a puddle jumper. My husband never imagined our son who is typically pretty cautious around pools could of fallen in and so quickly). My husband finished talking with the other dad and looked around for him so he could put his puddle jumper on and take him swimming. He thought he was standing near him. My husband looked around but our son wasn’t there. He called his name but no response. My husband walked a few steps towards the pool and there he saw our son floating face down in the pool! As you can imagine sheer inconceivable terror set in. My husband immediately ran towards the pool and jumped in with his clothes and shoes on. He pulled our son out of the water and laid him on the edge of the pool. He was blue, not breathing, and didn’t have a pulse! Just writing this I’m shaking and crying. My husband immediately started to perform CPR. Someone else that was there saw what was going on and ran into the house. She picked up the phone and dialed 911. She looked at the other moms and I and said, “It’s bad”! We said, “Huh what’s bad”? She looked at me and said, “It’s your son”! (I was cutting a onion, which I will have issues doing for the rest of my life). I said, “What”? I just knew by her face it was bad. I threw the knife down and ran outside. There I saw my worst nightmare! My happy, spunky baby boy was lifeless on the side of the pool and my husband was performing CPR on him! I started screaming I didn’t understand what was happening. When I went into the house no one was swimming and no one was eating. Why is my baby blue and not breathing? I was in shock and confused. My husband stopped doing compressions and checked for a pulse and in a terrified tone said, “He’s dead”! I said, “What? No! No! God no, this is my baby you can’t do this to me!” I said to my husband, “Don’t stop”! He went right back to doing compressions and breathing life into our son. After a minute or two, which seemed like an actual eternity our son coughed up water. He had a pulse! During this whole time first responders and an ambulance still hadn’t arrived. It took 7 minutes for first responders to arrive. It’s important to keep that in mind because the time you have to react after someone is drowning is crucial to their survival. During this time we had 911 on the phone and they were advising us on what to do. After the first responders arrived we continued to wait even longer for an ambulance to arrive.
Throughout this whole time my son was still unresponsive. He was breathing but not able to communicate and we were all still panicking! Finally the ambulance arrived. They put oxygen on our son and he started to scream! The sound of him screaming was alarming but also music to my ears because it was something. The paramedics said that’s what you want to hear ma’am but I still couldn’t breath. That ambulance ride was the longest ride of my life. I prayed the whole way please don’t stop screaming please oh please. Our son was taken to the ICU where we prayed more and more for his life. The doctors were working on him vigilantly and quickly but time felt frozen. The doctors said that night would be very important for his lungs and his survival. Overnight we took turns laying with him and holding him praying, “Please let him come out of this and be the boy we had before. Please take me instead god. Please God make our son healthy and whole”.
Our son woke up the next morning looked around the hospital room confused and said where’s my brother? Our little boy came back to us! Thank you god! One of the respiratory therapists that visited him the day before said he’s a miracle! That day he was talking and walking and walked out of the hospital. He did leave with minor lung damage but we were told his lungs would heal on there own.
This story has a happy ending and I thank my husband for saving our sons life. If it wasn’t for his swift actions and ability to stay calm when seeing his own son near death we wouldn’t have our baby boy. We thanked God for answering all of our prayers.
Since this experience I’ve learned the following things:
•Drowning is the #1 cause of unintentional death in children ages 1 to 4 years and #2 cause for ages 10 to 14 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On average, there are 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States which is about ten deaths per day. About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. More than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or transfer for further care. These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning.
•Even if your child is a swimmer don’t assume they are safe in the water they still need to be supervised. Children can get tired, get a cramp, have a medical emergency, or even get trapped under rafts.
•Drowning is silent! It’s not like the movies, children don’t usually scream and wave there arms around. I’ve had other moms reach out to me who had similar experiences and they’ve all said their child nearly drowned just a few feet away from them while other adults were around and no one noticed or heard a thing.
•It only takes a minute or less for a child to fall into the pool. You could be looking in your bag for a towel or grabbing your phone and your child may have already fallen in the pool.
Here are some things I found that can help you be prepared if a drowning occurs or help you avoid a drowning:
•Learn CPR! If you don’t know it or if you learned it a long time ago take a refresher course the guidelines may have changed.
•Always designate a “Watcher”. If you have a pool think about getting a lifeguard if your having a pool party or designate a “Watcher”. The Watcher can be one of adults whose sole purpose is to watch the pool and those swimming. The Watcher can not go on his/her phone and can not have conversations with others. Its advised that the Watcher switch with someone else after 15-20 mins because after a period of time you are less alert.
•You must have your pool fenced in and/or have an automatic cover. In states like Florida almost everyone has a pool and is required to have a gate around your pool. The latches should be high up out of the reach of young children. If you have an automatic cover, close the pool when you aren’t supervising it.
•Take toys and floating rafts out of the pool when no one is in it or supervising it. The toys are very tempting for younger children.
•Supervise your children! No one will watch or care for your children like you will. If your not in the pool with them you need to be in close proximity to them and they need to be visible to you at all times. Your kids are depending on you to keep them safe.
•If you have a pool put alarms on your doors or on the pool. I’ve read about children who wandered out of their homes while their parents were cooking or in the bathroom etc and fell into their pool. If you don’t put an alarm on your doors they sell alarms for pools that will sound off if someone falls in. There are floating pool alarms or below water alarm systems but please don’t rely on alarms for supervision. You still need to supervise your children this is just an added precaution.
•Have an emergency kit with instructions on how to resuscitate someone. Even if you think you know how to do it, during a moment of panic it may be hard to focus. If you can’t focus someone else may be able to walk you through the steps.
•Always have a phone near the pool so you can contact emergency personnel.
•Children who can’t swim must wear approved life vests all the time whether swimming or not (puddle jumpers are approved for bigger kids). If your child doesn’t like to be wet after getting out of the pool I recommend having two life vests. One for swimming and one for when they get out of the pool. Just take the wet one off, dry them and then immediately put the dry one on. This may seem excessive but they will be safer and as I mentioned it only takes a minute for a tragic accident to occur. If your child refuses tell them sorry then your not swimming we’re leaving.
•Invest in swim lessons. I tried with my younger son when he was two and a half but he was so scared and wasn’t ready. You can bet I’m going to try again very soon.
Lastly, don’t think that this can’t happen to you. Please practice good pool safety and appreciate every precious moment with your loved ones.
I hope you share this information and my son’s story helps keep your family safe.