A toddler by a stream with a paper boat.

Drowning Toddlers – The only safe pond is a filled in pond

So sad to hear about to hear the news last week about the twin toddlers who drowned in a garden pond in Fife Scotland.

It is every parent’s nightmare.  You take your eye off your child for a moment and they disappear.  You search frantically, look out of the window and see you child face down in the garden pond.  This  also happened a few years ago to Megan Birchall   a 13 month year old toddler who went missing after her mother Jayne went upstairs for a few moments.    It is thought that Megan who had recently learnt to walk slipped out through an open door and fell into the pond.

Research shows 80 per cent of pond drowning happens in the garden of a friend, relative or neighbor. I have often heard safety experts say that the only safe pond is a filled in pond. Better to use it as a sand pit

Drowning is the third largest cause of accidental death in the home to the under-fives and it is the very young toddlers who are most at risk because whilst they can walk they have not learnt how to turn themselves over and if they fall face down into some water, even a few centimeters, and then take a breath they can asphyxiate.

One of Safe and Sound trainer’s a Paediatric A & E nurse explains that she has tried to resuscitate many toddlers who have drowned. “Success rate for resuscitation depends on how long the child has been left before resuscitation starts.  In reality once a child’s heart stops beating, you only have approximately 3 minutes without oxygenation before the child’s brain is likely to suffer irreparable brain damage.  Therefore the heart must either be restarted or oxygen be provided mechanically by someone else.  Which means CPR must be administered immediately.

She recalls a situation a few years ago when she was working in a large A & E Hospital and she was involved in the resuscitation of a toddler who had drowned in the family pond.   The accident happened in February, on a cold but sunny winter morning.  The two older children of the family went out to play in the garden, but didn’t realise the toddler followed.  After approximately 20 mins playing dad spotted the toddler face down in the pond.  He retrieved him and started CPR, as luckily he remember his first aid training.  An ambulance was called and when it arrived the paramedics started more advanced life support and brought him to the emergency department.  On  arrival this little boy was significantly hypothermic and was resuscitated for almost an hour before his heart spontaneously re-started.

The little boy made a full recovery.

The possible explanation for this was the fact that this incident involved cold water drowning.   If the child is profoundly cold, i.e. hypothermic at the moment that the child’s heart stops his vital organs, in particular the brain, may be protected from damage due to lack of oxygenation, a concept often referred to as ‘protective hypothermia’.

Watch our short Child CPR video to remind yourself how to perform CPR


or go to www.safeandsound.uk.net to book onto a first aid course.