BROOKLINE, MA — With the 4th of July weekend coming up, people in Brookline are gearing up for a splash in the water.
However, summer fun can end in tragedy in seconds.
Just this month, a 1-year-old in Wrentham drowned in a backyard pool as his family was celebrating Father’s Day. Family members performed CPR on young Angelo Nicoloro, but it was too late. He died at a Rhode Island hospital shortly afterward.
Angelo is among the latest victims of drowning, which claims about 10 American lives every day, about 3,400 a year, according to Stop Drowning Now, an activist group that seeks to prevent drownings. Drowning is the No. 1 cause of death for children age 4 and younger, according to the group.
Children, like Angelo, are at a particularly high drowning risk.
About 750 children drown in pools and natural bodies of water each year, 375 within 25 yards of a parent or adult, according to the CDC. And of those, the CDC said 10 percent of parents watch their children drown because they don’t know it’s happening.
A child or weak swimmer can drown in the time it takes to reply to a text, check a fishing line or apply sunscreen, according to the Red Cross.
Most often drownings happen with no warning: No yelling or waving. Just a silent gasping for air and 20 to 60 seconds later, submersion.
The Red Cross notes a swimmer needs immediate help if they, are not using their legs, not making forward progress in the water, are vertical in the water but unable to move or tread water or trying to roll onto their back but aren’t able to or are motionless and face down in the water.
Other signs that someone may be drowning? Their head tilted back and mouth is open, or is so low in the water their mouth is at water level, their eyes may be glassy, or closed. They’re not using their legs but vertical in the water or appear to be climbing an invisible ladder.
After Angelo’s death, Wrentham police Chief Bill McGrath pleaded with parents to always keep an eye on their kids, especially when there is a pool at the home.
“You need to be hyper-vigilant beyond reason,” McGrath wrote on Facebook. “Pools are truly a trap for the toddlers of our world, so much fun at face value, so dangerous at the same time. The little ones only see the fun.”
Here are six tips provided by PoolSafely.gov to help ensure that swimming pools stay safe:
- Never leave a child unattended in or near water. The public education campaign also recommends that parents and caregivers remain alert even if there is a lifeguard on duty. A child or weak swimmer can drown in the time it takes to reply to a text, check a fishing line or apply sunscreen, according to the Red Cross.
- Teach children water safety and how to swim. “Swimming is not only fun, it’s a lifesaving skill.” Develop a habit from the beginning to not just run and jump into a pool when you see it, but to sit down and wait until an adult gives a signal that it’s safe. Similar to looking both ways and holding a hand before crossing the street.
- Teach children to stay away from drains: Children’s hair, limbs, jewelry or bathing suits can all get stuck in a drain or suction opening. Make sure to locate the drains before getting into the pool.
- Ensure all pools and spas you visit have compliant drain covers: Powerful suction from a pool or spa drain is enough to trap even an adult.
- Install proper barriers, covers and alarms on and around your pool and spa. “A fence of at least 4 feet in height should surround the pool or spa on all sides and should not be climbable for children. The water should only be accessible through a self-closing, self-latching gate.”
- Know how to perform CPR on children and adults. Learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation can help save a life. Find classes here.