Travis County: More child drownings reported this year than all of 2018

Travis County has reported an uptick in children drowning. 

Since the first of the year, there have been at least 15 drowning incidents involving children under age 12 in Travis County. 

“And of those 15 -- three of them have been fatal. Which surpasses our total numbers from last year," ATCEMS Commander Mike Benavides said. "We had one last year in Travis County, and we’re barely starting to enter into the summer season.”

Alissa Magrum, executive director of Colin’s Hope, a water safety group founded in honor of 4-year-old Colin Holst who drowned, says Travis County typically has no more than four children a year drown. 

Of the 15 drowning incidents that have taken place in 2019, 14 involved children under the age of seven. Nine of the incidents took place at a pool.

First responders and water safety advocates stress that drownings can, and have happened everywhere -- bathtubs, buckets, even toilets. 

On Monday, a child nearly drowned at a northeast Austin apartment complex. 

ATCEMS Captain Randy Chhabra said as of Wednesday afternoon, the five-year-old was in the intensive care unit at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.

In nearby Williamson County, a girl died Wednesday night after a drowning incident at Cedar Park’s Buttercup Pool Tuesday afternoon. The Cedar Park Police Department says the child was given CPR by lifeguards at the pool. EMS took over and transported her to a hospital where she died the following day. The circumstances surrounding the drowning remained under investigation Wednesday. 

Chhabra says the “trending characteristics” in each Travis County drowning incident were lack of supervision and flotation.  

He is asking guardians utilize the “safer three” approaches to prevent drownings: safer water, safer kids and safer response. 

Safer water means barriers, such as isolation fences, alarms and pool covers. Safer kids means swim lessons. Safer response means appropriate supervision. 

A common distraction for adults is phones. First responders are asking guardians to remain at an arm's reach from children and become aware of available rescue devices. They also want guardians to remember that drowning is silent and to get CPR certified. 

“If [children] were to receive bystander CPR within the first five minutes of that arrest, they have a 300% greater likelihood of having a positive outcome” said Chhabra. 

It is recommended children begin swim lessons at age one. 

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