A 2-year-old girl who slipped out of her "water wings" and ended up on the bottom of a Ladera Ranch swimming pool Tuesday was being treated at Mission Hospital.
It happened about 10 a.m. in a private backyard pool near Foliate Way and Fallow Lane, Capt. Steve Concialdi of the Orange County Fire Authority said.
The girl was taken to the hospital in moderate to serious condition, he said.
"It just takes a few seconds ... for what can be a lifetime of regret," Concialdi said, noting that the county has logged 20 such accidents so far this year, eight of them fatal.
The girl and her mother were with a 3-year-old boy and her mother.
While the four were waiting for a swimming instructor to arrive, the girl slipped out of some "water wings" -- inflatable tubes that slip over arms -- and fell or jumped into the water without the mothers noticing.
The 3-year-old boy alerted the women that "she's on the bottom of the pool," Concialdi said.
One of the women dived in and rescued the girl, who initially was unconscious but started breathing again, he said.
Concialdi said the OCFA discourages the use of "water wings," because they are too easy for little children to slip out of — accidentally or intentionally.
The girl would be admitted to the hospital and monitored for secondary or "dry" drowning, he said. When water or any foreign substance gets into lungs, the body produces a mass of mucous to help expel it, he said.
Near-drownings also can cause brain damage due to oxygen deprivation, but Concialdi said there were no hard and fast limits on how long a person could be deprived of oxygen and not suffer brain damage.
"It can be just seconds," he said. "With a child, they're panicking. They're inhaling water the whole time."
He recommended keeping children 3 and younger at "arm's length" around water.
An adult and a child hospitalized in near-drownings last week were reported in grave condition, he said.
— City News Service