JENNINGS, LA (KPLC) – An 18-month old boy remains on life support after nearly drowning in a trash can full of water last Friday.
The child's mother was not home at the time. The child was left in the care of her boyfriend, 23 year old Ricky James Caswell II of Jennings.
Caswell was arrested and charged with second degree cruelty to a juvenile. He allegedly went outside to smoke cigarettes, and then returned to find the child in a trash can full of water it was catching from a pipe leak.
Caswell preformed CPR on the child, stabilizing him before first responders arrived. He remains in jail until his bound hearing on Monday.
Cases like this are not uncommon in Louisiana. Drowning is the third leading cause of preventable deaths for children under the age of 15.
"Whether it be the bathtub, a bucket of water that you're mopping with, or even the toilet for that fact, if you turn your head for just a second it can have detrimental effects," said Alisa Stevens, Child Safety Coordinator with the Office of Public Health Region V.
Household objects that hold water don't even need to be filled to become a hazard.
Stevens stated, "A child can actually drown in as little as a few inches of water, you can use your index finger as a guide."
If a toddler falls into an object full of water, some might think that child can lift themselves out, but as Stevens explained it's not that easy.
"A toddlers head is heavy, so after the child bends over, it's unable to actually get up so it stays in this position [bending inside the water filled object] and water then enters the lungs."
There are certain items that can be purchased to assist you in protecting your child.
"You can use barriers if you're mopping. You can put up a safety gate to protect you child," said Stevens.
You can also purchase a toilet lock to prevent a child from playing in the toilet area, but these are not substitutes for supervision.
"Don't leave, not even for a second for the phone. Always keep your eye on your child near water," said Stevens.
You can purchase a safety gate or toilet lock from most local stores. Stevens also recommends that parents and caretakers be trained in CPR.