Dangerous pond - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 06-16-2003, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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We're having a safety problem and would like to see some of your opinions about how to handle it. We live on my sister's 2 acre property on Maui with a great orchard, an enormous garden and a lovely pond with waterfall, water lilies, frogs and ducks. Today my 23 month old dd fell in the 4 feet deep pond for the second time. I was there to retrieve her but had to put my 4 month old down on the ground and leave her crying. The biggest problem is that the sides of this man-made pond are so steep and the bottom is so slippery, it is nearly impossible to get out with a child in your arms. I had to scream at the top of my lungs 4 times before anyone heard me to come help us both out.

What would you do? Fence the pond, teach her to swim and keep her away until she learns, allow her to explore the edge and make sure you're always right there to retrieve her and create some way to get both adult and child out (this one seems like the "continuum concept" way and the way I was kind of leaning toward even though I'm not fully following the continuum concept, but it was awful leaving my other dd there crying and scared). It really shook us all up. Any suggestions or opinions would be appreciated. Thanks for your support.
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#2 of 7 Old 06-16-2003, 08:15 AM
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Well, I'm definitely no safety expert, and my dd is only 11 months and not yet mobile, so take this with a grain of salt. But I thought about your situation, and I guess I'd be inclined to let her explore, but I'd stay right with her (within an arm grab's length) and try to somehow get the message to her to not get too close to the edge, or perhaps teach her not to get close to the pond without mama there. I'd do my best to make sure she doesn't end up in the pond again. But again, there is no experience behind this advice, so take it with a grain of salt.
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#3 of 7 Old 06-16-2003, 08:33 AM
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I would fence the pond. Kids can drown in just an instant. Even if your child could swim, you said yourself that it is very difficult to get out of the pond. Just my opinion, but for me, it would be too big a safety and piece of mind issue.

In a lot of situations, it may be appropriate for kids to learn from their mistakes, but in this case, a mistake can mean death. I grew up in Southern California and in my neighborhood, just about everyone had pools and they were all gated. And my parents started us on swimming lessons at 2. But I still know of someone (without a pool) whose 2 yr old opened their back door, went to the neighbor's yard with an ungated pool, and drowned before the parent figured out where her 2 year old went. It can happen.

Mom to two daughters born in 1997 and 2000
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#4 of 7 Old 06-16-2003, 08:49 AM
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Hi LA,
I'm so sorry that happened to you and your child! It is so scary! We also have two small ponds and my child has not fallen in yet... HOwever she did slip and go under in the tub while I was right there. What scared me most was that she seemed so shocked at being underwater that she did not really try to get up herself and we have been taking swimming lessons for many months.
I would also definitely reccomend fencing the pond if possible AND also being there to watch your child. Even if she knows how to swim she may not be able to get out. Also, sometimes knowing how to swim means children think they can go swimming anywhere and everywhere. A friend of mine has a pool and said that all three of her children fell in at least once even when she was there. So unfortunately I would say NEVER leave them alone around the pond AND get a fence as a backup. Maybe you could also have some place to put your other baby if there is an emergency like a stroller of one of those outdoor play-yard things. Another option which sounds silly but saves lives is have your child wear a life vest if she wants to play near the pond, and still watch her. As you know they go in so fast! GOOD LUCK!
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#5 of 7 Old 06-16-2003, 10:24 AM
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ITA that a fence is needed, and even a fixed ladder to be able to get out of the pond if someone falls in. I have read that kids cannot really learn how to swim reliably until they are 4, and from your description, if she couldn't get out on her own it is way too dangerous to trust to her ability to swim, because she wouldn't necessarily be able to scream loudly enough to have someone come rescue her before she got too tired to stay up. I would not allow her to explore the edge either; I think continuum concept doesn't really apply here because she's too young to reliably learn to stay away, and allowing her to explore may just give her confidence that this is OK and a safe place.

Also, when your younger baby starts rolling/crawling, you won't be able to put her down safely if needed while you rescue the other. Can you imagine trying to keep a baby and an active toddler's head above water while trying to attract attention to have someone come rescue all three of you?

I hope your sister is amenable to the fence/ladder idea. It really sounds to me that while you live there you need to take more precautions than are currently in place.

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#6 of 7 Old 06-16-2003, 10:35 AM
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I would watch her constantly, and not fence the pond, but that is just me. You could get a floating alarm if you really wanted to, but I doubt she is doing to be out of your sight at her age. Especially outside. We raised dd from birth with an unfenced pool. We never had any kind of accident. We did teach her to swim when she was small, but never relied on that as a safety measure. She just was not allowed outside at that house without someone watching every moment. No attempted saftey measure can ever replace a diligent caregiver.
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#7 of 7 Old 06-16-2003, 10:46 AM
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We have a very similar pond and we fenced it. (well, dh fenced it after several hissy fits by me )

It's not a totally inpenetrable fence, but it slows dd down long enough for me to get there if she heads for the water, kwim?
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