There’s always a danger when small children are swimming in or are playing near a pool. That’s the message mom Gretchen Kristina wants to impart to parents everywhere after her toddler tragically drowned in a pool.
Gretchen reached out to SmartParenting.com.ph via our Facebook page with this message: "We want to save as many people from experiencing the same horror of losing a child as we have just endured."
In a Facebook post, the mom-of-four began by saying that like most parents, she never thought that losing a child to drowning would ever happen to her.
“I'm a stay-at-home mom. I'm with my kids 24/7. I am ALWAYS 100% involved with my kids. I NEVER let my guard down. Seriously, NEVER. I'm THAT mom. But with all that being said, it DID happen. To me. To us,” she wrote.
Based on her post, Gretchen said there was "no alcohol, no foul play, no negligence, no major distractions" when the tragic accident of her 22-month-old daughter, River “Ribby” Sivanne, occurred. Like so many stories she read that had the same set of circumstances, it was a typical day, where "we were all standing there, my child was RIGHT THERE WITH ME, and then we look over and our baby was floating in the pool." One of Gretchen's kids, a 12-year-old, managed to pull Ribby out of the pool, and Gretchen immediately began to perform CPR to clear water from Ribby's airways and restart her heart. A neighbor took over and kept Ribby's heart beating until the paramedics arrived.
Little Ribby spent two weeks in the hospital before passing away. “All her organs were functioning beautifully, but her brain was deprived of oxygen too long,” said Gretchen.
“Although a person might seem to enter a recovery state after being rescued from near-drowning, they may have already experienced severe repercussions from a lack of oxygen flow within the body,” says Healthline.
With the loss of her baby, Gretchen hopes to spread awareness through her story and leaves parents with three things to remember when kids are around pools:
1. “Pool safety doesn’t end when you get out of the pool.” Gretchen wrote, “If you are on a property with a pool anywhere near you, the risk is ALWAYS less than a few seconds from becoming a painful reality.”
Young children can drown silently--no screaming or splashing--in as little as 25 seconds even in shallow water, Dr. Lois Lee, an emergency-medicine specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital in the U.S., told Parents.
2. “Do not trust that someone is watching your child.” Adults make the mistake of taking their eyes off of swimming kids during family gatherings or parties because, with that many people, parents assume that there’s always someone around who’s watching the kids. “Even if there are two dozen relatives sitting around eating barbecue, DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE YOUR RISK,” wrote Gretchen.
Never take your eyes off your child she’s in or around water. Five seconds is long enough for a child to be submerged, said Dr. Anne Beasley, a pediatric hospitalist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in the U.S.
3. “Learn CPR.” “Call your local hospital or Red Cross. Sign up for the first available certification class. Get certified. Stay certified,” Gretchen wrote. Although her daughter did not pull through, CPR gave her and her family the precious two weeks to be with Ribby, she shared.
“When the heart stops, the lack of oxygenated blood can cause brain damage in only a few minutes. A person may die within eight to 10 minutes,” says Mayo Clinic. “CPR can keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until more definitive medical treatment can restore a normal heart rhythm.”
Learn how to perform CPR here. More first aid techniques parents must know can be found here.