When the temperature rises in Orange County and throughout Southern California this summer, kids want to keep cool. And to be “cool” they head to the local water parks. However, parents should be aware, even though there are life guards on duty; children are still at risk for possible injuries. Falls, entrapments, crashes, back injuries, drowning, including secondary drowning are sometimes possible.
Wave pools are by far the most popular feature at any water park and as one might expect, where the majority of accidents occurs. These pools are usually the size of football fields, and when they turn the “waves” on, it’s like being at the ocean. Although there are normally 6 or 7 lifeguards standing by, accidents do happen if you are crushed between floating devices or you slip for some reason or lose your life vest.
Several recent family drowning accidents here in California water parks have inspired new state legislation on water safety. It’s called the Wave Pool Safety Act or SB 107 and its primary goal is to save children’s lives and create uniform safety standards throughout California’s water parks. It is expected to be signed into law this year.
SB 107 requires no one less than 48 inches to be allowed inside the wave pool area. All participants over that height requirement must have a personal flotation device such as life vest on. In addition the lifeguards must adhere to the 10-20 rules, which states that they must identify a child in trouble within 10 seconds and assist with help within 20 seconds. Lifeguard training is also being improved. (In all previous drowning episodes lifeguards have been present).
Next to wave pools, waterslides are the next accident prone areas of a water park. Collisions on a waterslide can inflict serious personal injury. Because of the nature of the slide; high rate of speed, slip and sliding, one must always take care to observe the safety rules. Be sure to review safety rules with your children before letting your children ride these slides alone. Obey operators’ rules of entering and exiting these types of rides to stay safe.
Lastly, a syndrome called, “secondary drowning” occurs in about 5% of near-drowning experiences, and these cases occur more frequently during the summer months. A recent incident occurred last weekend when a 10 year old boy swallowed some water while swimming in a public pool. When he got home, he told his mother he was tired and wanted to take a nap. When someone checked on him an hour later, he was having trouble breathing and they rushed him to the emergency room where he later died of secondary drowning. This syndrome can occur up to 72 hours after exposure to pool water without any known symptoms.
Experts agree that if your child has swallowed enough pool water to start choking, look for outward symptoms such as breathing problems, coughing or a raspy throat. These could be signs of injury to the lungs and should be checked out.