The Tampa Bay region had an increase in preventable deaths in March 2020. The Prevent Needless Deaths campaign is attributing the rise in accidental drownings to COVID-related reasons.
During the pandemic, more people are staying at home, but they’re often distracted and overwhelmed with virtual learning and working at home, or dealing with furloughs and job loss. It’s easy to think another family member is watching a toddler who slips out to the family pool unnoticed.
Door alarms and pool fences can be a barrier of protection that keeps young children from reaching a pool or body of water. It’s an important step in keeping kids safe, says Dexter Lewis, public relations manager for the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. He talked with ABC Action News about drowning prevention tips during a pandemic.
The Tampa Bay region had an increase in preventable deaths in March 2020. The Prevent Needless Deaths campaign is attributing the rise in preventable deaths to COVID-related reasons.
During the pandemic, parents are experiencing heightened stress and anxiety, and they’re overwhelmed with trying to keep older kids on track with virtual learning while balancing the demands of working at home, or dealing with furloughs and job loss.
Stress and distraction are two factors that can be deadly for infants.
Dexter Lewis, public relations manager for the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, talked with ABC Action News about the importance of following the ABCs of safe sleep – Alone on their Backs in a Crib – even during a pandemic.
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and plans are in the works for those special nights out. Talk with your babysitter, friend or a family member who is watching your child while you’re enjoying an adult date night. Discuss how to follow safe sleep practices, and prevent accidental drowning and abusive head trauma.
A few essential tips to keep top-of-mind:
- Understand current safe sleep practices. Infants must always be Alone, on their Backs, and in a Crib. This means that firm mattress with tight fitting sheets — and nothing else in the crib.
- Supervise closely. It doesn’t take long for a child to drown (as little as 20 seconds!) and there can be hidden hazards in your home, like a toilet or bucket of water.
- Manage stress. It’s ok to take a time out if they’re feeling overwhelmed. Place baby safely in their crib and take time to regroup.
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is in full swing and while it’s a joyous, exciting time, it can be stressful. Parents and caregivers can make New Year’s resolutions to help keep children safe this season (and all year long).
Take action to keep the top causes of preventable death in kids under the age of 6 – unsafe sleep, drowning and abusive head trauma – from happening to their families.
Make a New Year’s resolution to:
- Remind your sitter and other caregivers about the ABCs of safe sleep: Alone, on their Backs, in a Crib.
- Find healthy ways to relieve your stress, or call on community resources like the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay by simply dialing 2-1-1.
- Watch for household hazards like bathtubs, pet water bowls, buckets and toilets that can lead to accidental drownings. It only takes 1 inch of water for infants to drown.
Prevent accidental drownings
Accidental drowning is a leading cause of death for Tampa Bay children under the age of 5. Parents and caregivers often think of the pool first as a risk, but drowning can occur in places you don’t normally expect or in places where you’re not as much on your guard: ponds, lakes, beaches and retention ponds. Buckets, pet water dishes, bathtubs and toilets are often overlooked as a drowning risk, but children younger than 6 months of age can drown in as little as 1 inch of water.
Watch the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office on Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend to learn how to prevent accidental drownings.
What your pediatrician may not tell you
Preparing for a baby’s arrival can feel overwhelming. Your obstetrician and pediatrician are excellent resources for caring for your baby and keeping them healthy, but they may not tell you how to keep your child safe in your home.
Parents and caregivers often think preventable tragedies won’t happen to their family, but sadly, accidents can happen to even the most attentive parents and caregivers. Last year, 33 children in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties died from unsafe sleep, accidental drowning or abusive head trauma (also known as shaken baby syndrome).
All of these deaths are 100 percent preventable.Learn tips for expecting parents by reading the blog post on No Ordinary Liz.
Learn about abusive head trauma
A flash of frustration can be deadly for your baby. Abusive head trauma, or shaken baby syndrome, can happen when stress levels rise and an infant or young child is shaken by a parent or caregiver from stress. It’s a leading cause of death for young children in the Tampa Bay area.
Parents and caregivers must understand that crying is normal and babies may cry because they’re hungry, need a diaper change, are teething, are over-tired or are simply too hot or cold. If you feel yourself becoming frustrated, know that it’s ok to leave the child safely on their back in the crib and step out of the room to regroup.
Learn more about how to keep children safe during the summer by reading an article in Tampa Bay Moms Blog.
Child safety during summer break
Tragedies can happen when parents are distracted and stressed, which may be intensified during the summer months, especially if you have multiple children at home.
It’s important for parents and caregivers to understand the threat of accidental drownings as children can drown anywhere and anytime – in as little as 20 seconds, and in one inch of water. Parents should also practice safe stress relief and understand that if a baby is crying, it is ok to put them in the crib and take a moment for yourself. Shaking a baby in frustration when the baby won’t stop crying can be fatal or cause life-long injuries.
To learn more about how to keep children safe during the summer, read the blog from Crazy Life with Littles.
Preventing accidental drownings in children with Autism
Accidental drowning is the top cause of preventable death for children under the age of six in the Tampa Bay area. And, Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are at a higher risk for accidental drowning because they are drawn to water as it sparkles in the sunlight.
The most important thing to remember to prevent children from drowning is to supervise them at all times. Children drown silently and in as little as 20 seconds.
To learn more about water safety tips, especially for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, watch the ABC Morning Blend segment with The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County and Josh the Otter.
Preventing unsafe sleep deaths, accidental drownings and abusive head trauma
Children can drown in only 20 seconds, babies should always be placed alone and on their backs in their crib, and parents should be aware that stressful situations, like crying, can cause caregivers to harm infants unintentionally.
Hear more tips on how to prevent needless child deaths from drowning, unsafe sleep and abusive head trauma on a radio interview with Roxanne Wilder from The Current and Paula Scott, Director of Public Relations with the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.