Twenty seconds can change your life…Play it Safe By The Water

Prevent a drowning

It’s true that this post is a slight departure from my regular offerings, but as it is  topic that I feel quite strongly about, I thought it was important to share my experiences…

This is a happy but sobering story of just 20 short seconds that could have changed my life in the most tragic of ways.
Twenty seconds is such a short amount of time, just a blink of an eye, just one moment. Sometimes if you are lucky it can be the exciting moment when your lotto numbers come up, but for an unfortunate few, it can be really devastating.
In my case, my twenty seconds saved Emma’s life.

Last summer Emma was two, and as toddlers tend to do, she had a tendency to run away from me and not stop. Because of this, I was always in a hyper vigilant state that was exhausting but necessary. I’d taken her to the beach that day for a play in the water, and she ran away from me yet again. The water was shallow, I had my eye on her the whole time. Then all of a sudden she was gone, disappeared into a big dredged out hole on the beach near a canal. She bobbed up once and disappeared again. I just remember running fast and jumping in, the water up to my chest, she was well under.

I pulled her out, she was stunned and started crying. I can still remember the overwhelming feeling of relief that came over me at that moment. She was ok, in a little bit of shock, but still with me. I am so thankful that I wasn’t distracted or talking on the phone at that moment, I wouldn’t have seen where she fell and she could have drowned.
Luckily for all of us she didn’t and we got strawberry ice cream instead, life went on and for that I am grateful.girl eating strawberry ice cream

Emma and I still talk about that day, she remembers it vividly, “You saved me mummy, I nearly drowned!” She didn’t run away much after that, it scared her straight.

We were lucky, others aren’t.

I had a customer once, in my old shop, who came in regularly, until she didn’t. Six months later she popped in but looked sad and not quite herself. We chatted and eventually she told me how her 18 month old had drowned in her own backyard pool whilst she was attending to another child. It was heart wrenching and tragic. My heart hurts when ever I think about it and I’ll never forget the sad look in her eyes even after all this time.

There are so many sad stories like this, of preventable deaths where children have drowned in the silliest of places like buckets and wading pools, dams and ponds.
It’s just so important to be super vigilant when toddlers are around water, it only takes 20 seconds for a toddler to drown…

I encourage you to visit and Play it safe by the water this summer.

(just as a side note, these are actually photos I took that day, it blows me away to think the top one may have been the last image I ever had of her)

Have you had 20 seconds that changed your life?


  • Max says:

    I nearly drowned aged 9 (we didnt learn to swim until age 11). Mum and dad left me with some older kids in the shallow end but my sister challenged me to walk in as deep as i could and i lost my footing. All i could see were legs and it wasnt until i pulled at some boys trunks (i felt mortified even as i drowned i was helped to the side. I still cant bear to swim in moving water, but my three year old has just taken her first independent strokes after lessons since she was 6 months old.

    • Miss Cinti @ My Poppet says:

      How scary. My mother started taking swimming lessons after she retired from work. It’s never to late to improve your skills but it’s important to be sensible too. So many adults drown from getting out of their depth. Currents can be hidden and dangerous.

  • carmel says:

    I applaud you for this post. And I’m so relieved to hear things turned out well for you on the day your daughter could have drowned. We have 3/4 children doing swimming lessons. Selfish of me really, because I’m only doing it so they don’t drown and I don’t lose one of them. I’m not sure I could bear it. It’s costing a fortune but it’s a price I know I won’t regret.

    I watched a documentary about a family whose son spent way-too-long under water. He didn’t drown but his brain was starved of oxygen for so long that he was left a very disabled young child. I am tormented by that documentary and wish drownings weren’t so regular.

    • Miss Cinti @ My Poppet says:

      Swimming lessons are so important. I enrolled Emma that very week. Don’t think of the money, it’s a skill that could save their life. I saw that documentary too. It was heartbreaking.

  • Sunae says:

    I’ll never forget when my sister was about 3 years old and I was 5 we were swimming in my Aunty’s pool. I was a good swimmer for my age, as my sister and I had swimming lessons from a very young age, but Shoni wasn’t supposed to go in the deep end, just play by the steps. Mum was breast feeding my baby brother and my aunty was putting sunscreen on her kids, I was in the deep end and Shoni decided to jump in too, overconfident in her ability. She panicked when she realised she couldn’t touch and grabbed on to me to save herself, but I couldn’t touch either and we both nearly drowned with her arms around my neck and pushing me under. My aunty looked up just i time to jump in and save us both, wrenching Shoni off me and pulling me out of the pool too.

    Too many people underestimate the dangers of water, or grow overconfident in their children’s ability to watch out for one another a bit or know their limits. Thank you so much for posting this. The more awareness there is for water safety, th better.

  • Bianca says:

    Such an appropriate post for this time of the year. Thank you. Water and toddlers are a scary mix, even when they’ve been doing lessons.

  • Natasha says:

    How bloody scary! And so sad for your customer. I sent my girls to swimming lessons from age 1, mainly because I can’t swim. 20 years ago, at a family bbq at a local picnic spot I watched a family friend drown – he was 26 years old, we had been taking turns in their canoe all day. He always made sure us kids wore a life jacket but he never did. At the end of the day it was my turn but his older brother was taking over from his sister-in-law. His brother freaked me out so I said I’d give it a miss. The 3 of them then set out as me & his younger cousin were watching them. Suddenly the water went feral & the canoe flipped. His brother & sister-in-law made it to the bank but he just went down. I’ll never forget it. And I felt so helpless because I couldn’t even jump in to help him(I was 12). I sent his cousin tearing up the hill to get all the adults & I’ll always remember all the men rushing in, barely stopping to strip down to their undies before jumping in to try & save him, but it was too late. He wasn’t found until the next day. x

  • Maria says:

    I feel compelled to reply to this post. I can’t even begin to comprehend the heartbreak of losing a child to the water – to anything in fact. But from drowning when it’s so avoidable – gut wrenching. I really feel for your client. And for you – so so lucky and thank the skies that top picture is not your last. Thank the heavens.
    Hopefully this story serves as a vital reminder to us all to keep an eagles eye on our children and those of others when playing in the water. indeed – it can happen too suddenly and silently.
    Best wishes for a joyous Xmas ahead

  • A-M says:

    This really hit home. I nearly drowned when I was 9. I was a very competent swimmer and was swimming in the sea, but not in the deep, only chest height. Then suddenly a hidden current took hold of me, and no matter how hard I swam, I could not get closer to shore and I couldn’t touch the seabed. This went on for some very long minutes. I started to tire and I started to panic.

    Thankfully a man on the beach noticed me, realised what was happening and came and got me. The water wasn’t even deep, he was able to walk out and just hold my hand to pull me back in. I never even found out his name. I just thanked him and skipped off to my adult cousin who hadn’t even noticed I was gone. I thank my mother for making it such a priority to teach me to swim, or I would have been swept much further out, much faster.

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