SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As the weather warms up, health officials in Santa Clara County are already seeing a spike in child drownings and near-drownings compared to last year.
"It only takes minutes of time with them underneath the water, submerged for their oxygen levels to drop, and for brain damage to occur," said Dr. Nicole Baier, a pediatrician at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.
Over the past two months, eight children have been taken to VMC to be treated for drownings. Two of the cases were fatal. It's concerning because staff members have already seen more incidents involving children year-to-date than they did for all of 2017.
"We really want to make sure that everyone's vigilant about the possibility of drowning and making sure that children stay safe around water," said Baier.
In preparation for a busy season, the City of San Jose has hired more than 40 lifeguards to staff its pools this summer.
"They get certified in lifeguarding, CPR, AED, some of them are water safety instructors," said Clarissa Garcia, who manages the city's aquatics program. "They go through an immense amount of training."
Lifeguards are ready to help in the event of an emergency, but are calling on all families to stay alert at the pool.
"Even though lifeguards are on duty, we want to ensure that parents are attending to their children as well, and making sure they're aware of where they're playing," said Garcia.
Countywide, there were a total of 18 unintentional drowning deaths last year across all ages.
From the County of Santa Clara Health System
The Pool Safely campaign, a national public education campaign run by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, provides information on the simple steps that parents, caregivers, and pool owners should take to make sure that children and adults stay safe in and around pools and spas. Prevention begins with these layers of protection:
- Install a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas
- Designate an adult Water Watcher to supervise children at all times around the water
- Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim
- Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults
- Teach children to stay away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments
- Ensure any pool or spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards