Be watchful: Warwick child health nurse Cathy McCoster.
Be watchful: Warwick child health nurse Cathy McCoster.

Near-drowning 'nightmare' for mum

A SHOWER, plug and 40 seconds equalled a recipe for disaster for a Rose City mum yesterday.

“Don’t leave your children unattended – ever. Even for a minute, even for 40 seconds, that’s how long I was gone,” the Warwick mum, who wished not to be identified, said.

She experienced every mother’s nightmare at 8.30am yesterday as she went through the normal morning ritual with her 10-month-old, three-year-old and six-year-old.

The mum left the baby of the family in the bath with the shower drizzling down the plug hole for less than a minute and in that time one of her other children put the plug in.

“I raced in there and he was bottom up and face down and I tried to revive him,” she remembered.

“His eyes were in the back of his head and he was all shaky.”

She called the ambulance, in what she said felt like a nightmare she couldn’t wake up from, and they attended the scene in just over a minute to save her baby.

“I was just so lucky I wasn’t any later,” she said with relief.

She couldn’t be more thankful of the excellent work and care taken by the paramedics who came to the rescue and even saw to her other children, getting them ready as they left for the Warwick Base Hospital after 20 minutes of “hell” saving her child.

“I’ve read about child drownings and I have thought where was the mum or the dad,” she said.

“But when it happens to you it just goes to show it can happen so quickly and you find your baby drowning.”

“I have definitely learnt my lesson. Your kids are the most important thing – once you have them you just can’t live without them.”

She warns others to never be distracted by anything and to enrol in a first aid course to get life-saving skills to help save your child.

This is a warning echoed by Warwick Child and Family Heath Centre (WCFHC) child health nurse Cathy McCoster who said 100 per cent supervision was the only answer for child safety around water.

“We started the Water Safety Program because we realised drowning was the most common cause of preventable death in the toddler age group,” Mrs McCoster said.

The WCFHC program is for infants from about six-months-old and is broken up into a two part program which is offered to Southern Downs mums monthly.

The first part is theory with information provided following the Royal Life Saving Keep Watch program and the second part is at the WIRAC hydrotherapy pool teaching mums and dads about safe techniques around water.

“You can’t answer the phone or go to the door – you have to take everything into the bath with you and make sure you pull the plug as soon as you take the baby out,” Mrs McCoster said.

She warned even with a toddler there should always be adult supervision and not to leave a young child or a toddler watching an infant.

“Swimming lessons alone is not going to save your baby. You need that and supervision,” she warned.

“Lessons are important but nothing ever replaces supervision.”

Warwick Indoor Recreation and Aquatic Centre (WIRAC) aquatic co-ordinator Karen Peters said water safety classes are very important to any child and with the increasing child drowning cases it shouldn’t be over looked.

According to Royal Life Saving Australia the drowning statistics for July 2008 to June 2009 were 302 drowning deaths, 32 of which were under four-year-olds and 11 deaths for five to 15-year-olds.

WIRAC offers water familiarisation classes each term with the next 10 week course beginning on April 12 for six-month-olds to five-year-olds.

The Rose City mum, who is still reliving her scare today, said she hoped her terrible experience would serve as a warning to others so no-one else would have to live through her nightmare.

For more information on WCFHC’s program contact 4660 5400 or for WIRAC’s program contact 4661 7955.

‘It can happen so quickly, you find your baby drowning.’

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