Water Safety for Parents
The importance of water safety
Although most drownings happen in residential swimming pools, children can drown in
just one inch of water (such as in buckets, bath tubs, wading pools, diaper pails,
toilets, hot tubs, and spas). In addition, open waters such as oceans, rivers, and
lakes pose a drowning threat to older children. The majority of children who survive
being submerged in water without brain damage are discovered within 2 minutes. Most
who die are found after 10 minutes.
Parents are advised to take the following preventive steps to protect their children
Never leave your child unsupervised near water at or in the home, or around any body
of water, including a swimming pool.
Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and infant and child first aid.
Do not rely on personal flotation devices (PFDs) or swimming lessons to protect your
Install childproof fencing around swimming pools.
Make sure you have rescue equipment, a telephone, and emergency phone numbers near
the swimming pool.
Insist that your child wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device
on boats at all times.
Do not allow children to dive in waters less than 9 feet deep.
A warning about personal flotation devices
On boats, PFDs should be U.S. Coast Guard-approved and should fit properly. Inflatable
swimming devices, such as "water wings," rafts, toys, and other items, are not considered
safe and should not be relied on to prevent drowning.
Water safety in and around the home
More than half of all infant drownings (under age 1) happen in bathtubs. Supportive
baby bathtub "rings" do not prevent drownings if the child is unsupervised. Water
hazards in and around the home may include the following:
Ice chests with melted ice
Hot tubs, spas, and whirlpools
Ditches and post holes
Ponds and fountains
Small children can drown when they lean forward to look into a bucket or open the
toilet. Because the head is the heaviest part of a small child, it is easy for him
or her to fall over into a container. Containers filled with liquid often weigh more
than the small child and will not tip over when the child falls in.
Swimming pool safety
More than half of childhood drownings happen in swimming pools, either at the child's
home or at a friend's, neighbor's, or relative's house. Pools are especially dangerous
Children swim unsupervised.
The pool is not properly fenced in.
There is no telephone with emergency numbers nearby.
There is no rescue equipment near the pool.
Parents rely on PFDs to keep their child safe.
When boating, sailing, and canoeing, children of all ages should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved
PFDs, such as life jackets. In fact, many states require the use of PFDs on all boats
at all times. It is estimated that in 90% of boating-related drownings victims were
not wearing PFDs.
Drowning in the winter
Children can drown during the winter by falling through thin ice. In addition, pools
with winter covers that do not completely cover the pools pose a threat. Children
can slip between the cover into the pool.
If children are around bodies of water on a regular basis, it benefits parents to
learn CPR. In case of an emergency, CPR can save lives, reduce the severity of injury,
and improve the chance of survival. CPR training is available through the American
Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and your local hospital or fire department.
A warning about diving
Diving accidents can result in permanent spinal cord injuries, brain damage, and/or
death. Diving accidents happen when a person:
Dives into shallow water.
Dives into above-ground pools, which are usually shallow.
Dives into the shallow end of a pool.
Springs upward from the diving board and hits the board on the way down.