Media alert - Having a backyard pool is a big responsibility

    Urgent Alert: Preventing Home Pool Drownings

    MONTREAL, Aug. 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Regardless of age or skill level no one
is drown-proof. The Montreal Children's Hospital Trauma Centre of the MUHC
warns parents about the dangers of young children drowning in above-ground or
in-ground backyard swimming pools. This warning is prompted by the second case
in the past week of a child who was hospitalized at the Trauma Centre
following a near-drowning event. The toddler was hospitalized last week and
was cared for by MCH Trauma specialists. She has since recovered well and has
been discharged home. Earlier in the same week another toddler was not as
fortunate and succumbed to his injuries after drowning in an above ground
    According to MCH Trauma Director, Debbie Friedman, drowning is a leading
cause of death in Canada for children aged 1 to 4 years; 50% of these deaths
occur in Quebec. Friedman points out that at this age children are curious,
they do not recognize the potential for danger, and they are impulsive. She
notes that, according to The Canadian Red Cross, each year in Canada
approximately 60 children aged 14 and under drown, while another 140 are
hospitalized for near-drownings.
    According to a 2006 Safekids Canada report, nearly 50% of drowning deaths
occur around swimming pools, many in private homes with un-fenced or
inadequately fenced swimming pools.
    Friedman strongly supports the Quebec government's Residential Swimming
Pool Safety Bill unveiled this past July, which is expected to go to the
National Assembly in the fall of 2009. This Bill calls for specific standards,
including mandatory fencing around newly installed pools. However, she urges
municipalities to go further and pass and enforce by-laws that would require
homeowners to ensure that all backyard swimming pools--not only newly
installed ones--are surrounded by 4-sided fencing that is a minimum of 4 feet
in height, that has no opening below the fence, and that has automatic locking
gates. She emphasizes the importance of having NO direct access to the pool
from the house or patio.
    The fact that the law will only be in effect by next summer leaves trauma
experts concerned about this summer. Carlo Galli, Trauma Coordinator of the
Injury Prevention Program, reminds parents and caregivers of the importance of
vigilant supervision since it takes no time for a young child to drown in as
little as 5 centimetres of water.
    A few other important recommendations to ensure safety around pools for
young children include:
    - Swimming pool areas should be well supervised with everyone keeping
      their eyes on the water.
    - Automatic locking gates should not only be installed but checked
      regularly to ensure proper functioning.
    - Children under 5 years of age should wear properly fitted personal
      floatation devices. This also applies to older children who are do not
      know how to swim.
    - In keeping with the coroner's recommendations of August 2008, it is
      strongly recommended that children and teens take swimming lessons
    - Always remember to empty kiddie pools when not in use.
    - Never leave young children unattended near hot tubs
    - Knowledge of lifesaving techniques is an asset.
    Ms. Friedman concludes that these tragic events are devastating and
strongly encourages that the above recommendations be followed closely so that
they can be prevented.
    For more information on trauma and injury prevention check out the new
MCH Traumawebsite at www.the

    The Montreal Children's Hospital is the pediatric teaching hospital of
the McGill University Health Centre. This institution is a leader in the care
and treatment of sick infants, children, and adolescents from across Quebec.
The Montreal Children's Hospital provides a high level and broad scope of
health care services, and provides ultra-specialized care in many fields
including: cardiology and cardiac surgery; neurology and neurosurgery,
traumatology; genetic research; psychiatry and child development and
musculoskeletal conditions, including orthopedics and rheumatology. Fully
bilingual and multicultural, the institution respectfully serves an
increasingly diverse community in more than 50 languages.

For further information:

For further information: Denisse Campos, Public Relations and
Communications, The Montreal Children's Hospital McGill University Health
Centre, (514) 412-4307

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