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Drowning Prevention



Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths among children ages 1– 4 in Orange County and nationwide. Dr. Goodman, a CHOC critical care specialist, says locally backyard pools are often to blame during the summer. The best prevention, he says, is to have at least three separate barriers in place that prevent a child’s access to the pool. Barriers can include a fence around the pool, a pool cover and a pool alarm or a motion detector. “The barriers may not prevent them from getting to the pool but this creates an obstacle course to the pool and that will buy you precious minutes to prevent a drowning,” Dr. Goodman says. Swimming lessons also help but are not a guarantee.


To promote safety, Dr. Goodman suggests that an adult be designated as a “water watcher,” watching the kids in the water at all times, whether it’s a backyard pool or the bathtub. “Assigning someone to be responsible is a great plan and this keeps eyes on the kids in the water at all times,” says Dr. Goodman. “Drowning occurs quickly and quietly, so the water watcher shouldn’t be doing anything else, not even talking on the phone. My concern is to get the message out there to families of young children that drowning can happen to anyone, any time.”


When it comes to drowning, every second counts. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed by a bystander has been shown to save lives and improve outcomes in near-drowning victims. The more quickly CPR is started, the better the chance that the victim will have a reduced injury and a better outcome. “We can’t say enough about CPR. Everyone should know CPR and it’s easy to learn. If a child has drowned, CPR is the only thing that will save his or her life. You don’t want to wait until the paramedics have arrived because that’s too late,” says Dr. Goodman.

Meet Dr. Goodman

Dr. Gary Goodman is the medical director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at CHOC Children’s at Mission Viejo. Dr. Goodman served his fellowship at CHOC and completed both his residency and internship at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center. Dr. Goodman contributed to the development of CHOC’s drowning prevention video “Three Tragic Seconds—Time to Make a Difference,” including the accompanying curriculum. He often speaks in the community and at seminars about preventing incidents of drowning.

Dr. Goodman’s philosophy of care: “I work hard to get parents totally involved in their children’s care and to make sure they understand the nature of the child’s illness or injury and the treatment plan we have. I explain not just what we are doing for their child but why we are doing it.”

University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine

Pediatrics and Pediatric Critical Care


No one is drown-proof.

In this segment of American Health Journal, Dr. Paul Lubinsky, Critical Care Specialist at CHOC Children’s and Michelle Lubahn, Health and Wellness Coordinator at CHOC Children’s, share their insight into drowning, which is the second leading cause of unintentional injury related deaths in children of ages 1-14.

Learn how CPR is crucial in avoiding brain damage as a result of a near drowning and how the best way to avoid a drowning incident is prevention. Watch the video for important safety tips about what you can do to keep kids safe in and around pools and other sources of water, and remember to respect the water at all times. No one is drown-proof.

Drowning deaths can be prevented.

Children and water can be a fatal combination. Drowning is a quick, silent event. A child can drown in as little as two inches of water. The good news is, this does not have to happen to your child! Drowning deaths can be prevented if the right action steps are taken.

The Three Tragic Seconds program at CHOC Children’s is designed to provide you with information and the skills necessary to prevent drowning accidents. To learn more, please contact the CHOC Community Education Department at 714-509-8887.

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UC Irvine

CHOC Children's is affiliated with the UC Irvine School of Medicine