I felt SO guilty when my toddler drowned in our backyard pond – what every parent needs to know to keep your kids safe | The Sun
IN the US, drowning kills more children aged one to four than any other cause except birth defects.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the shocking figures, while globally 235,600 people are estimated to drown every week.
As temperatures increase and Americans head to pools and beaches to enjoy the summer sun, one mom shares her heartbreaking story.
Lucy Herd, 47, from Berkshire, UK, admits she felt incredibly guilty when her beautiful son Jack, 23 months, tragically drowned in the family’s backyard pond in 2010.
“Jack was just the loveliest little boy,” Lucy tells The Sun US. “He was a very sociable, happy boy.
"He loved to blow kisses to everyone he met, including strangers, which would always brighten anyone’s day.
"He was cheeky but everyone loved him. He loved animals and life in general.”
On August 27, 2010, Lucy’s phone rang. It was work.
She realized it wouldn’t be a quick call, so she said she just needed five minutes to get Jack sat down and occupied and then she would call back.
Little did she know that this call would change her life forever.
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She recalls: “I sat Jack on our kitchen floor with some paper and crayons and called work.
"I turned my back on him while I was talking, for just a minute or two, and when I turned to check on him, both him and our dog were gone.
“My heart was in my mouth as panic set in. Where had they gone? The back door was open, so I ran outside straight away, calling for Jack.
"I don’t know why, but I just knew that I would find him at the pond.
"Call it Mother’s Instinct, perhaps, but I just had to go to the top of the garden where the pond was and see.”
Sure enough, when Lucy got to the pond, she found the family dog sitting there and Jack face down in the water.
She says: “There was a dry-stone wall, about 4 feet tall around the pond, and Jack had for some reason climbed up it and fallen in.
"It was a deep pond, with Koi Carp fish in it.
"I don’t know if Jack was bending over and looking at the fish or if he had thrown the dog’s ball – I can’t remember seeing anything that would give me a clue, but I knew I had to get him out, fast.”
The consultant came out to me and put a hand on my shoulder and told me he had gone. I have never felt as alone as I did in that moment
She adds: “I tried to grab him, but he was all slippery so I couldn’t get a grip on him, so I jumped into the pond myself and lifted him out.
"He was completely lifeless. I screamed and screamed.
"Our closest neighbours were away on holiday, but my then 13-year-old son heard my screams and called for help.”
Lucy begun CPR and remembers it seeming to take a long time before an ambulance arrived.
She says: “It felt like forever before the ambulance arrived, but then farmers on their tractors from the local farm turned up, along with other good Samaritans from our tiny village in the Lake District, to try and help.
"Everyone knew our family and loved Jack.”
The ambulance arrived and rushed Jack straight to hospital, where sadly there was nothing that could be done to save his life.
“The consultant came out to me and put a hand on my shoulder and told me he had gone. I have never felt as alone as I did in that moment,” Lucy tearfully recalls.
Lucy says her ‘Mom-Guilt’ was off the scale and so she decided to find something good to focus on to help.
This led her to campaign tirelessly to firstly change the law in the UK so that parents now have the right to two weeks paid bereavement leave – previously it was just three days.
Drowning accidents are especially high in the summer months, and over the last few years, I have heard of too many tragedies that could have been avoided. I hope that by sharing my story, parents will be more aware of the dangers of water
Now she is campaigning again to ensure ponds and swimming pools have secure fencing around them to prevent further drownings, as currently there is no legislation in place in the UK.
“I decided that I really wanted to turn a negative into a positive, so by campaigning and raising awareness, I feel I am doing that,” Lucy says.
“I am also an ambassador for The Royal Lifesaving Society, and I now work as a Grief recovery Specialist, known as The Grief Educator. I help people with over forty types of loss that cause grief.”
Part of Lucy’s raising awareness is by going into nurseries, community parent hubs and schools to talk about the ways that parents and carers can prevent drowning from happening.
Lucy’s advice to parents
- Firstly, get on your knees and look around for hidden dangers, from a toddler’s perspective
- Never leave your child unattended around water
- Watch children when they are in or around water, without being distracted
- Keep young children within arm’s reach of an adult
- Empty paddling pools and containers upside down once empty, so they don’t collect water
- Ensure dog bowls are removed from the floor with a crawling child
- Put the toilet seat down to ensure children can’t topple in
- Remember, children can drown in as little as 2cm of water
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Lucy adds: “Drowning accidents are especially high in the summer months, and over the last few years, I have heard of too many tragedies that could have been avoided.
"I hope that by sharing my story, parents will be more aware of the dangers of water and more drowning accidents prevented.”
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