A Pool Isn’t the Only Place a Child Can Drown — Here’s What To Know

The tragic drowning death of 2-year-old Arrayah Barrett, the youngest daughter of Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett, is a heartbreaking reminder that pools can be a dangerous place for little ones. But as we head into swimming weather, it’s time for another crucial reminder: a swimming pool is not the only water that poses a drowning risk.

Water safety was top of mind when Kristy S. was planning her toddler daughter’s birthday party. In fact, she even rented an inflatable slide so the kids wouldn’t overcrowd the swimming pool at their Tulsa, Oklahoma, home.

During the party, Kristy happened to glance over at the slide. Her heart sank. Her daughter was lying motionless in a few inches of water at the bottom of the slide. “At first, I thought she was just playing, so I yelled over to her, but she didn’t move,” Kristy remembers. “A few more seconds passed before I realized something was really wrong, and I raced over and grabbed her. She was unconscious, so we called 911.”

It turns out, Kristy’s daughter inhaled enough water on her way down the slide to cause her to stop breathing. “The whole thing happened in a matter of just a few seconds,” she says. Another guest at the party began administering CPR and was able to resuscitate her. Still, says Kristy, “I was scared out of my mind.”

Get the facts on drowning

As Kristy discovered, drownings and non-fatal drowning events can occur quickly and without warning. Though drowning can happen at any age, children 4 and younger are particularly at risk. Toddlers can drown in as little as an inch or two of water, which means accidents can happen in places parents might not think to closely supervise. Think buckets, bathtubs, hot tubs, spas, plastic kiddie pools, toilets, and, yes, inflatable slides. (Older kids, teens, and young adults typically drown in lakes, rivers, and other natural bodies of water.)

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