Children are dying because parents are on their phones
Safety experts from around the globe have issued warnings time and again that drowning is most often silent.
By ELI BEER
Smartphones make connecting and communicating with other people much easier. Whether it is social media, email or gaming, more and more people are attached to their phones at all times. However, it has recently been shown that cellphone usage by parents during their children’s swim time has resulted in an alarming number of deaths by drowning.Last year, the German Lifeguarding Association published findings that drew a direct link between children dying in the water and parents cellphone usage at the time of death. For years, lifeguards have warned parents that using a phone while children are swimming causes the parent to lose focus on the child, and in many cases of children drowning this was one of the causes.Safety experts from around the globe have issued warnings time and again that drowning is most often silent. There are many examples of children who drowned in packed pools without anyone noticing. Sometimes, these incidents even happen at home in an inflatable pool with just a few centimeters of water, or even in a washing bucket.Authorities around the world are now explicitly warning people against using their smartphones whenever a child is near water, whether that be the bathtub, an inflatable pool, while washing the floor, and of course, when the family is at the beach or poolside.Israel has had its fair share of drowning incidents in which parents were using cellphones instead of watching their children. These instances and the resulting deaths were preventable and tragic. Over the past year-and-a-half, United Hatzalah volunteers have responded to 738 drowning or near-drowning incidents with almost half of these involving children.As a first responder, I can attest that there is no worse emergency call to respond to than the preventable death of a young child. Nothing is worse than that. Those are the calls that leave even the toughest first responders with nightmares.Once a person begins to drown, it is incredibly difficult to save them. Even if they are revived, there is often serious brain damage due to prolonged lack of oxygen. This is often more severe in children than in adults. It is incredibly difficult to turn back the clock once a child begins to drown. Therefore, as the founder and president of an emergency first response organization, I urge everyone to shut off their phones when taking children to a pool, beach, or even while playing in an inflatable pool on the balcony. The risks far outweigh the momentary indulgence of using one’s phone.In a recent interview with the Walla news site, Prof. Yehezkel Weisman, who heads the emergency room at Schneider’s Children’s Hospital, said, “The best treatment for a drowning victim is prevention.”Water is something that we all enjoy, especially in summertime. However, as much as we enjoy it, water brings with it a host of dangers, the worst of which occur when children who are not receiving the amount of supervision that they need drown. Small children need to be watched every moment when they are near water. In order to do that, parents must turn off their phones.The writer is a social entrepreneur and the president and founder of United Hatzalah of Israel, an independent, non-profit, fully volunteer organization that provides fast and free emergency first response throughout Israel.