Dr. Mike O'Neill, Emergency Room physician at Covenant (Source: KCBD Interview)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -
Every year for the last 10 years, there have been about 3,500 accidental drownings in this country.
The CDC adds that one in 5 is under the age of 14.
But Dr. Mike O'Neill, an Emergency Room physician at Covenant says there are actually so many more cases in which the child survives an underwater scare, but is never the same.
He says it doesn't take long for underwater exposure to trigger hypoxic brain injury in a child. That refers to a condition in which not enough oxygen is reaching the brain.
Dr. O'Neill explains, "Exposure can do damage rather quickly. "A child may survive because their organs and their heart are healthy and can be restarted but neurologically, they can be devastating."
Supervision is key, he says, to keeping kids safe in and around a pool.
But also, he says pool owners should have some sort of barrier in place so it's not easy for kids to get to the water on their own. And he recommends parents learn CPR and always keep a phone handy at pool-side in case you need to call 911.