HEALTHPLAN MAGAZINE

Are Drowning Deaths In Spain Increasing? Spain News

It seems that you can’t open a newspaper in Spain at the moment without reading about yet another drowning incident.

We’ve been reading about so many drownings over the past week including the death of Presley Stockton, a 4 year-old boy from Wigan, Greater Manchester who drowned in a swimming pool at the Paradise Park Fun Lifestyle Hotel in Los Cristianos, Tenerife. 

This is truly heartbreaking! As a parent myself, this completely saddens me!

Yet the fact remains that each year, hundreds of people die here in Spain from drowning in the sea, swimming pools and lakes. In 2017 alone, 480 people lost their lives, many of them young children on holiday with their families. 

But what can be done to prevent further tragedies like these happening and why have there been so many incidents recently?

It's no coincidence that many of the deaths tend to occur during the summer months when the country receives a large influx of holidaymakers. This could be one of the reasons, but doesn’t make such news stories any easier to stomach.

Some people are under the impression that when children drown at holiday resorts or at the beach that it’s just a case of neglect and that the parents were too busy knocking back Sangria’s rather than looking after the safety of their children, but this simply isn’t the case.

I consider myself a good parent yet nearly lost my own son when he was very young. My wife and I were at the pool and were actually standing just feet away from him when unbeknown to us he had somehow slipped into the pool and was under the water within seconds. Fortunately, we turned around in time to see him submerged and trying to get to the surface. A few moments later and it could have so easily have been a terrible tragedy. After being pulled out, he was a little shaken, but other than that was fine. Others haven’t been so lucky!

On a similar occasion my wife was at the pool and a lady had turned her back on her child to clear her things away ready to leave when her small child fell into the pool. Fortunately, my wife was aware and jumped into the pool to prevent the child drowning. It could have so easily have been another tragic loss. Just another yearly drowning statistic...

The point I am trying to make is that it’s SO EASY for a child to drown. It takes literally SECONDS to lose sight of a child and for them to get into difficulty.

It doesn’t only happen when there is nobody around. Drownings can just as easily happen when there are other people present. People are often under the impression that their children are safer as there are more people around, but there are no guarantees.

In a recent news story, Steven Tartt from Merseyside, saved TWO children from drowning after he spotted them at the bottom of a hotel pool in Menorca. There was a lifeguard on duty at the time, but he was ‘too relaxed’ while listening to his music to notice the drowning children! 

So how can we keep children safe at the pool and beach?

Tips for Keeping Children Safe

  • Have a designated adult to watch the children - Don’t rely on lifeguards!
  • Teach your children to swim as soon as possible
  • Don’t let them dive into shallow water
  • Secure loose hair and costumes to prevent them getting stuck in pool filters.
  • Learn life saving skills such as CPR
  • Remove toys from the pool to prevent a child attempting to get them and falling in.
  • If staying at a villa, make sure the pool is fenced off with a locking gate. Also see if there is a pool cover and/or pool alarm.
  • Teach your child pool safety and not to swim alone.

What to Do If You Find A Child Drowning?

It’s important that we all know how to treat a child if they are rescued from drowning.

  • Once the child has been pulled from the water, lay them on a flat surface. If you are on your own call for help. If you are with another person get them to call the emergency services. 112 when in Spain. If you are on your own, but have a mobile phone, you could call the emergency services and put them on loud speaker so you can get instructions.
  • Check to see if they are breathing by placing your ear to their mouth and nose. Do you feel air on their cheek? Is their chest moving?
  • If the child isn’t breathing and is unresponsive you will need to start CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
  • Before you begin CPR you will need to give them 5 rescue breaths first. Gently tilt the child's head back and raise the chin. For an infant, cover the nose and mouth with your mouth and breath in for one second. If it is an older child pinch the nose, cover the mouth with your mouth and breath for one second. The chest should rise when you do this. Do this 5 times.
  • Once this has been done, start CPR with 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths as detailed above. The chest compressions should be done fairly rapidly at around 100-120 per minute. Keep doing this until the emergency services arrive or the casualty becomes responsive. If they recover, put them on their side in the recovery position and keep them warm to prevent hyperthermia with dry clothes or blankets. 
  • Continue to check the child’s breathing and condition until help arrives.

Please find out more about CPR at the following online resources.

https://www.webmd.com/first-aid/drowning-in-children#1
http://www.sja.org.uk/sja/first-aid-advice/breathing/drowning.aspx
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/resuscitating-a-baby/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1YrU55ACbE