Our 6-year-old daughter and only child Roxie drowned in a local summer camp only 10 short months ago. Our lives as we knew them vanished along with our daughter’s radiant smile.
When The Family Room generously asked us to contribute a blog post, all the familiar do’s and don’ts came to mind—those we have been proclaiming since our beloved girl left her last breaths at the bottom of that pool.
Swimming and CPR lessons can save lives. California requires two layers of protection around a pool. Children should never be left alone around any body of water, including a bathtub, a bucket of water or even a toilet. The Buddy System works. And, drowning has devastating and lasting consequences.
However, what most adults fail to understand is that these measures are not working.
According to a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, drowning statistics dipped for approximately two decades before spiking again in 2016. Approximately 73 percent of non-fatal drownings and 74 percent of drownings involved children younger than five. The vast majority of childhood drownings occur when an adult is present and within 20 feet.
The primary reason for such an alarming reality is that children do not drown themselves. Adults are responsible. We realize this sounds harsh. But if adults do not lock the pool gate or the back door or do not know how to properly administer CPR or if they leave children alone anywhere near water or pay more attention to phones and friends, drowning will continue to be the second leading cause of death for children under four and second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children under 14.
Roxie died because adults were not paying attention to her. It’s truly that simple, that stark. Children are already suffering near-fatal drownings or drowning deaths right now, primarily because we adults are not holding ourselves accountable. Year after year, we say that we only looked away for a minute or we dish other excuses.
When cars were viewed as loaded weapons because accidents were killing people at alarming rates, we buckled up our car seats and our seatbelts. If we also look at water as a loaded weapon, perhaps only then will we habituate similar behavior in order to end this senseless, preventable outcome known as childhood drowning.
Please don’t forget Roxie. And please don’t let our children d(r)own.
About Meow Meow Foundation
Meow Meow Foundation is a Pasadena, California-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded by
Doug Forbes and Elena Matyas whose 6-year-old daughter Roxie drowned in an Altadena summer child care program pool in June of 2019. With programming focused on camp safety and water safety for children, MMF has introduced legislation that would require the licensing of thousands of unregulated California day camps serving millions of children. MMF also works with strategic partners including The Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, Huntington Hospital and The Family Room to eliminate childhood drowning, the number two leading cause of death for children under four and a wholly preventable outcome.