It happens ‘in the blink of an eye’

The drowning of a child in a swimming pool is every parent’s worst nightmare.

Seven weeks ago, Olympic ski champion Bode Miller and his wife lost their 19-month-old daughter in a Southern California drowning accident.

In the aftermath of the Miller tragedy— and as summer temperatures rise and swimming pools become the go-to place to cool off—the conversation about pool safety has reached a critical stage.

The Millers opened up to the nation about their loss with an appearance earlier this week on the NBC “Today” show, saying the June 10 incident at a neighbor’s pool happened “in the blink of an eye.”

It’s what other parents have said, too—that all it takes is one instant, one moment of inattention, and a child is lost.

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional, injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4, the American Academy of Pediatrics says on its website. The AAP cited a Consumer Products Safety Commission study that said most childhood drownings happen at pools right at home and that nearly 70 percent of the child victims were not expected to be in or even at the pool, yet they were found in the water.

Thankfully, one recent pool incident had a happier ending for a Thousand Oaks family whose 4-year-old child entered a community pool on a warm day and almost drowned, even though surrounded by people.

Leslie Powell, an off-duty nurse at Los Robles Regional Medical Center who happened to be at the pool at the time, took immediate action and performed life-saving CPR on the child until first responders could arrive.

Thanks to Powell’s training and quick thinking the child was saved—and allowed to go home from the hospital the next day.

Los Robles, AMR ambulance company, the Los Angeles County Fire Department lifeguard division, and Health-e-Medrecord, a Moorpark-based medical services company, are hosting an Aug. 10 water safety awareness class with the Malibu Makos Surf Camp, and it’s an event well worth attending as the concern for pool and beach safety increases during this record-hot summer. Activities will include lifesaving tips and CPR and water rescue demonstrations. Contact Meghan Shaner at (805) 370-4437 for more information.

In the meantime, AAP recommends these simple rules for parents who own a swimming pool and have young children in the home:

•Construct climb-resistant fencing at least 4 feet high around the pool.

•Have a gate that is well-maintained and is self-closing and self-latching. It should open only away from the pool.

• Keep all toys, especially blow-up floats, away from the pool when the water is not in use.

•Never allow tricycles or other riding toys at poolside.

Most importantly, watch your kids, and watch them closely—like the most precious things in the world that they are.