Drowning can happen silently and quickly - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

FOX Medical Team

Drowning can happen silently and quickly

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ATLANTA -

If someone were drowning and needed help, you'd know it, right? Maybe not. Drowning is not like you see in the movies with a lot of splashing and calling for help.

Children can slip into the water without making a sound. That's what happened to 4-year-old Noah Webb.

Back in May, Noah and his mom were invited to a friend's neighborhood pool.

"I was putting sunscreen on my youngest son. I did that really quick -- two or three minutes, tops," said Abigail Webb. "Went over to the pool, was looking around for Noah, couldn't find him anywhere.  And that's when my friend's husband started screaming."

Noah had slipped to the bottom on the deep end, where he was unconscious, clutching a pair of sunglasses.

"So I'm thinking he looked down, saw the sunglasses, went down the steps, went underwater, got the sunglasses and when he came up, the water was over his head," said Abigail.

Fortunately for Noah, that pool had lifeguards who looked down as saw a little boy at the bottom of the pool who wasn't moving. One lifeguard called out to Greg Venezile, who leapt into action.

"I look at him for a second and I'm like, 'All right, all right, I've got to go get him,'" Venezile. "So I jump in, I picked him.  I put him on the cement, getting ready to check the pulse."

Abagail said, "When I looked over there, the lifeguards were surrounding him, and he was laying there, not moving, not breathing, just laying there lifeless."

"He was like a doll, like when you picked him up he was like that," said Greg.

Thanks to CPR and quick action, Noah survived.   

But Dr. Jim Fortenberry, the pediatrician-in-chief at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, says children can drown quickly and silently -- even with their parents nearby.

"We see situations where parents are at a pool, at a party, where a child goes under, and they're in a conversation right beside their child. So, it requires that kind of laser-like focus," Fortenberry said.

Dr. Fortenberry says if your child is in -- or even near the water -- stay focused on that child.   Don't talk on your cellphone, don't text and don't turn away -- even for a minute.

"The saddest part I hear from families who have lost a child to drowning is that feeling of, 'It was only a moment. He was there, and then he was gone,'" Fortenberry said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says young children like Noah are most likely to drown in backyard pools. Older children are at higher risk swimming in lakes, rivers and the ocean.

The CDC recommends teaching children to swim, learning CPR and use life-jackets on open water.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is asking parents to think of themselves as "water watchers."

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