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First Aid & Emergencies

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Drowning in Children

Call 911 if your child:

  • Is having problems breathing or has stopped breathing as a result of being immersed or submerged in liquid. (Remember, children can drown in as little as one inch of water.)
  • Has had a near-drowning episode
  • Place two fingers on the breastbone.
  • Begin rapidly pressing down on the chest about 11/2 inches deep and then releasing the pressure. Make sure you're not pressing on the end of the breastbone.
  • Do 30 chest compressions, at the rate of 100 per minute. Let the chest rise completely between pushes.
  • Check to see if the baby has started breathing. (Watch to see if the chest rises and falls on its own.)

  • Is having problems breathing or has stopped breathing as a result of being immersed or submerged in liquid. (Remember, children can drown in as little as one inch of water.)
  • Has had a near-drowning episode

 

This article is meant to be used as a guideline. It is important for parents and caretakers to learn CPR and how to do it correctly. To find a CPR course, go to redcross.org or heart.org.

1. Take the Child Out of the Water

2. Get Help, if You Are Not Alone

Starting CPR immediately is the most important thing you can do to prevent a child from dying.

  • If you are alone, follow the steps below before stopping to call 911.
  • If you are not alone, while you start the steps below, ask someone to call 911 and to notify a lifeguard, if one is close.

 

3. Check for Breathing and Responsiveness

  • See whether the child is breathing. Place your ear near the child’s mouth and nose. Do you feel air on your cheek? Is the child’s chest moving? (Gasping is not breathing.) While checking for breathing, you can also call the child's name to see if the child responds.

4.  If the Child Is Not Breathing, Start Rescue Breathing

You do not need to remove water from the child's throat to start CPR.

  • Carefully place the child on his or her back on a firm surface.
  • If you suspect a neck or head injury, roll the child over by moving the entire body (head, neck, spine, and hips) together, keeping them all aligned.
  • Tilt the child's head back and lift the chin. If you suspect a neck injury, do not tilt the head, just open the jaw. For a baby, be careful not to tilt the head back too far.
  • With an infant, place your mouth over the baby's nose and mouth to form a tight seal.
  • With an older child, pinch the nose closed and put your mouth over the child's mouth, forming a tight seal.
  • Blow into the child's mouth for 1 second. The child's chest should rise when you do this.
  • Repeat the breath a second time.

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