My daughter almost drowned a few days ago.
We were in a fully fenced backyard swimming pool. I was in the pool enclosure, making an adjustment to my son’s goggles when I heard what sounded like a gasp for air.
I looked up and watched my daughter drowning.
At first I was confused. She wasn’t the world’s best swimmer but she could swim. I’d set her up as usual on the step of the backyard pool with her pool noodle and her kick board. I was right there in case she needed me. My children can swim but aren’t very confident so I tend to stay close just in case, particularly when we are in an unfamiliar pool as was the case that day.
I didn’t comprehend the danger she was in at first because if she just reached out she’d be able to grab one of her flotation devices. If she just stepped forward she’d be on the step and be able to stand up above the water.
As she was going down a third time I ran up the side of the pool and jumped in fully clothed. I grabbed her and dragged her to the side of the pool where we stayed for 30 minutes cuddling.
It turned out that she'd fallen off the step before she was ready to swim and had tried to turn around to get back to the step but panic had set in. Later that afternoon my friend's little girl almost went under due to a case of over-confidence in the pool and then the little dog fell in, swam to the side but couldn't get out of the pool because her little paws were too short. My son jumped in and rescued the dog.
Backyard pools are bloody dangerous, not just for children who aren't the best swimmers but even for older children like my son who is 11 and does a forward flip into the pool whenever he thinks I'm not looking. The problem with pools is that it takes just seconds for serious damage to be done, one mouthful of water for CPR to be needed.
As it stands, drowning is still the leading cause of death in children under five in Australia and that's not even taking into account the children left permanently damaged by near-drowning incidents. If it were any other cause - a food product, a toy - we would be yelling our heads off to ban the bloody things. Anything responsible for that many deaths in Australia each year would be considered too dangerous for us to handle.
However because it is the sacred Aussie backyard pool, nobody wants to come to the obvious conclusion that they are just too dangerous.
Backyard pools are so dangerous not just because kids are good at getting around safety measures but because drowning rarely looks like drowning. Article continues after this video.