Most people associate drowning with swimming pools and beaches and big bodies of water, but drowning can happen whenever there’s water, can happen even in hot tubs.
Such was the case with mom Rachel Barton Lister when her two-year-old daughter escaped her notice to swim in a hot tub unsupervised.
Recalling the harrowing experience in a blog post which has gone viral, Rachel said that it happened when they celebrated her oldest son’s birthday with a pool party.
“Everyone had a great time and my 2-year-old daughter loved splashing around in the water in her life jacket,” she said. “We are careful around water. I thought I knew how quickly an accident could happen.”
But as they were packing up to leave, her daughter told her she wanted to go back to the hot tub; Rachel had at that point already taken off her daughter’s life jacket and wrapped her in a towel.
“No,” she replied. “It’s time to go home now.”
Rachel left her sitting on the deck as she continued packing, more or less confident that the six adults that were with them would keep an eye out for the little one.
None of them however saw the child slip away to go to the hot tub, and when Rachel turned around, her child was nowhere to be found.
There were 4-foot tall bushes between the pool and the hot tub. Rachel ran over to the other side, and was horrified at what she saw.
“My daughter was face-down in the center of the hot tub…and I had no idea how long she’d been in there,” she said. “My husband quickly passed off the baby and began frantically working on my daughter. She wasn’t breathing.
“My husband did a Heimlich maneuver of sorts and pushed some water out of her tiny body. Reflexively, she began to vomit. Finally, she coughed and took a breath.”
At the hospital where her daughter was rushed, the doctors said that her oxygen levels were in the 80s, which was considered very low, and that she “likely had another 30 seconds before her heart stopped” when Rachel found her.
Rachel said, “My daughter made no noise. She couldn’t. She didn’t splash. She didn’t yell for help. We were all standing ten feet away while she drowned…Drowning can happen in seconds. It’s quick and it’s quiet and it can happen to your child.”
After 24 hours on the ventilator, and another 24 hours in the hospital for observation, she was able to come home.
“You cannot relax around kids and water,” Rachel insisted. “Drowning can happen in seconds. It’s quick and it’s quiet and it can happen to your child.
“Fortunately, our experience had a happy ending. But we’re all feeling a bit traumatized, and that experience is going to stay with me forever. The water is never going to look quite the same.”
READ: 5 Things you should know about dry and secondary drowning
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