Every time I see it on a parenting website, my heart drops: another child lost to drowning. I know the drowning posts are everywhere all summer long, and it can be upsetting as we scroll through our social media feeds. It always sends a shock to my system, and now . . . it’s happened to another celebrity parent.
Just a year after Bode Miller and his wife Morgan lost their 1-year-old daughter to drowning, country music star Granger Smith announced in a heart-wrenching Instagram post yesterday that his 3-year-old son River has suffered the same fate.
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I have to deliver unthinkable news. We’ve lost our youngest son, River Kelly Smith. Following a tragic accident, and despite doctor’s best efforts, he was unable to be revived. Amber and I made the decision to say our last goodbyes and donate his organs so that other children will be given a second chance at life. Our family is devastated and heartbroken, but we take solace in knowing he is with his Heavenly Father. Riv was special. Everyone that met him knew that immediately. The joy he brought to our lives cannot be expressed and his light will be forever in our hearts. If there are words to say more, I cannot find them in this moment. Love the ones close to you. There has never been a more difficult moment for us than this. . . In lieu of flowers or gifts, please send donations to Dell Children’s Medical Center in River’s name. The doctors, nurses and staff have been incredible.
It’s shocking, but sadly, it should NOT be surprising. Despite the efforts of Bode and Morgan Miller and other bereaved parents like them, most of us still don’t know that drowning is the leading cause of death for children under 4 years old, (excepting abnormalities at birth.) Did you get that? More of our babies die from drowning than. from. anything. ELSE.
Parents: we can’t just tuck that fact away in the back of our heads and not think about it because it’s upsetting. We’ve got to get PROACTIVE. None of our children are immune to a tragic water accident. After her daughter almost drowned last year at a pool full of adults sitting nearby, one of my blogger friends, Desirée Fortin, urged parents to have one DESIGNATED “child watcher” when there are kids in the pool. At a pool party with other families? GREAT! Have the adults take shifts to keep their EYES on the kids at all times. One adult sits out from socializing for a while and is on safety duty. Their ONLY job is to watch the pool. Switch shifts often, but make sure someone is ALWAYS on alert, eyes on the pool.
I LOVE this idea and think it’s key, but it’s not enough. Here are some other ways we can be proactive:
1. If you have a pool, have a fence.
The fence should be 4-sided and at least 4 feet tall all the way around. It should have a locked, child-proof gate.
2. If you’re visiting a home with a pool or hot tub, do your own safety survey of gates and locks.
The home you’re visiting may have different water safety standards than you and your home do. If they aren’t as secure as you want them to be, commit to keeping a closer eye on the kids while you’re there.
3. Get your kids swim lessons from a young age.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says, “Children over age one may be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had some formal swimming instruction.” Toddler swimming lessons are a thing for a reason! If you have a pool at your house or frequently visit one where life guards are not on duty, get your kids in consistent, year-round lessons until they are proficient swimmers.
4. Learn CPR. DO IT.
In am emergency, every second counts. Equip yourself with the knowledge and skill to save your child’s life. You may not have time to wait for EMTs in a drowning situation. Straight shooting here: this is a must if you have young kids.
Honestly, we are not here to scare anyone. But if one child is saved because a mama or daddy decided to be extra-cautions after reading this article, then it was one zillion percent worth writing. Your kids are worth it! Buckle down on water safety now and set the tone for the future, and I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Our condolences to Granger Smith and his family on their terrible loss. I pray that sharing River’s story will save other little lives.