The drowning deaths of two children under the age of five over the past week at the Montreal Children’s Hospital’s emergency department have prompted the institution’s trauma centre to call for vigilance around backyard pools.
The urgent alert was issued Friday to parents and families who have a pool at home or access to one to ensure all safety measures are put in place to prevent drownings.
“We are very concerned about this because we know families are opting for staycations,” said Dr. Debbie Friedman, director of the trauma centre.
“They will using their home pools more than usual during this period of the COVID pandemic and we are extremely worried about this happening again and we want to educate to avoid this happening again.”
A group comprised of Friedman and other health-care workers in the hospital’s trauma centre have also come up with several tips to prevent child drownings, including limiting access to the pool area.
Homeowners must put up adequate fencing that is at least 1.2 metres in height and four-sided around swimming pools. The gate to the pool should always be closed and locked when not in use.
Their safety measures state children should always be supervised when they are in the water or around the pool — and there should no direct access to it from the home. The group points out that it only takes seconds for a child to be at risk of drowning.
“It’s important to take these measures,” said Friedman. “We don’t need to have 20 kids drown before we realize there is a problem. Two in one week is too many.”
The Quebec government says drowning is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and four.
According to the province, child drownings mostly occur in residential pools after kids accidentally fall into the water while unsupervised.
— With files from Global News’ Kwabena Oduro