This time of year gets to me. When the mercury climbs and the sun won’t relent, my mind goes back. It was on a midsummer day nearly four years ago that my then two-year-old son nearly drowned. I took my four children to a friend’s house to spend an afternoon cooling off in their pool. My friend and I sat in the shallow end of her pool keeping watch as our combined six children splashed and swam the day away. My two-year-old stayed at my side on the pool’s lagoon, spraying the other kids with a stream from a water gun he’d taken a liking to.
There wasn’t a single moment that afternoon in which either my friend or I weren’t physically in the pool with the children. If one of us had to step away, we were sure to “tag” the other so that not a moment would pass without an adult presence in the pool. Ironically enough, both of us were there when my son quietly slipped under the water.
To this day I don’t know how it happened. It’s possible he dropped the water gun and reached for it, stepping off the edge of the shallow lagoon into deeper water. Or maybe it was just a misstep. I’ll never know.
In counting heads I came up one short. To my horror, I looked and saw my baby boy at the bottom of the pool. When I pulled him from the water he wasn’t breathing. I didn’t know CPR, but even if I had I can’t say that I was coherent enough to perform it. Even as I type these words, nearly four years later, the pace of my heartbeat quickens as I allow the memory of that day to sweep in. Truly I tell you that it was the most horrific day of my life. In spite of the agony of the memories, though, I’m sharing our story here in hopes that it will cause even a single caregiver to stop and take notice.
Here is what I want you to know about drowning: it can happen to your child. On the day my son drowned, there was constant adult presence in the pool. Not a single drop of alcohol was ingested. To put it plainly, my son nearly drowned because I wasn’t vigilant enough. Sure, I was with him in the water. But I allowed conversation with my friend to distract me for a moment too long. And, sadly, a moment is all it takes.
It’s true what they say: drowning is silent. My son didn’t splash when he went under. He didn’t make a peep. I don’t know for sure how long he was under water, but I can tell you that it was long enough for him to lose consciousness. Long enough for his lips to turn blue.
I was screaming as I pulled him from the water. I yelled his name as I pounded on his back—the only thing I could think to do. Seconds seemed to stretch into hours and still he was unresponsive, lying limp on the grass. Only when finally he began to groan did my own heart resume beating.
Today, my boy is a happy and healthy soon-to-be second grader. We are blessed beyond measure in that there were no lasting effects from the incident. Well, no lasting health concerns for him, that is. I, of course, am left with scars of my own.
My point in sharing our story is to cause you to remember it each and every time you head to the water’s edge this summer. I can solidly attest to the fact that there is no substitute for vigilant adult supervision anytime children are anywhere near water. Please don’t look away—not even for a second. And learn CPR.
By all means, have fun out there this summer. Just remember to make water safety a number one priority.