Swimming pool first aid is a necessary skill for any parent who has a swimming child or learning to swim baby. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4 and the second-leading cause of death in children 14 and under. Kids are especially at risk because they’re curious and attracted to water but are not yet able to understand how dangerous it is. If your child is the victim of a near drowning, a fast-action rescue plan can prevent a tragedy.
A small child can drown in as little as 5cm of water, just enough to cover their face and nose. You need to make sure that you have some basic first aid equipment around the swimming pool, including a first aid kit and a life preserver of some kind.
If your child has been submerged in the water, your first priority is to get your child out of the swimming pool and then check if they are breathing. If they aren’t, place your child on a hard surface, call for help and start performing CPR. Don’t assume it’s too late to save a child’s life, even if they are unresponsive, continue performing CPR and do not stop until medical professionals take over. Every parent should know CPR and take a course in these life-saving techniques, especially if you have a swimming pool at home, if you don’t know CPR here are some steps to take:
If your child doesn’t seem to be breathing:
If the chest doesn’t rise, try again. Re-tilt the head, lift the child’s chin, and repeat the breaths.
All ages: continue the cycle of five chest compressions followed by a breath for one minute, then check for a pulse. Repeat cycle until you find a pulse or help arrives and takes over.
You need to keep your child warm, no matter what happens, so remove any wet clothing and cover them with a blanket or even a dry towel. All near-drowning victims should be observed in hospital for 24 hours.
Preventing an emergency is the best preparation for swimming pool first aid. Never leave a child alone in or near a pool, the ocean, a spa or any other body of water!
The St John’s Ambulance runs a Caring For Kids first aid course for parents and child carers who want to learn the techniques necessary for baby first aid. The qualification is current for 3 years and differs from a Senior First Aid certification.