Water Safety

Many times people want to cool off at the pool, beach or lake, but taking part in these activities means making sure your children and grandchildren are safe around the water. Approximately 800 children ages 14 and under in the United States drown each year and nearly 2,700 require emergency room treatment for unintentional drowning related injuries. There have been 55 people that have already drowned this year! Children between the ages of 1 and 3 (12 to 47 months) represented 66% of these fatalities and 64% of the injuries and tragically, based on reported statistics, 96% of victims involved in a submersion incident will die. Fatalities usually occur the day of the drowning event (72%).

A child who is under water will lose consciousness after 2 minutes and suffer irreversible brain damage within 4 to 6 minutes. So, what's to blame for most drownings? Poor supervision! 9 out of 10 children who have died in the water were being watched by an adult. Many times these adults become distracted. It only takes a moment for an accident to happen.
  • Always keep your children within arms reach. Keep your eyes on them at all times.
  • Select swimming areas carefully.
  • Have your child wear a bright colored swimsuit - pale colors are hard to find if your child were to fall into the water.
  • Use proper safety devices. Arm floaties and air-filled tubes aren't approved for safety and will not protect your child against drowning. Use a U.S. Coast Guard approved life preserver whenever your child is on a boat or raft, near a river or participating in water sports.
  • Don't rely on the lifeguard.
  • Be wary of plastic or inflatable pools. Watch your child even if they are in very shallow water.
  • Never leave infants in the bathtub unsupervised. Small children can drown in as little as 1 inch of water! Babies are at greatest risk to drown in the bathtub!
Swimming at Home
If you have a backyard pool or hot-tub:
  • Know where your child is at all times. If your child is missing, check the pool first.
  • Surround your pool or hot-tub on 4 sides with a fence that is at least 4 or 5 feet high and never prop open a gate to the pool area. Make sure the latches are out of your child's reach.
  • Set up several roadblocks. Equip doors, gates and windows that lead to the pool or hot-tub area with locks and alarms or invest in a sonar device that sets off an alarm when something enters the water. Floating alarms also go off if the water is disturbed.
  • Cover your pool with a rigid safety cover whenever you are not using it. If you have an above ground pool, remove ladders and steps when they're not in use.
  • Don't leave toys in the pool area or use chemical dispensers that look like toys. Many children attempt to reach the toys and fall in unintentionally.
  • Be prepared for an emergency. Keep a phone by the pool to call 911. Learn CPR and make sure your child's caregivers know it too.
  • Dump small pools when not in use!
Drain Safety
Pools aren't the only dangers. Another hidden danger is the drain. Few parents realize that children can die in a pool or hot-tub by getting sucked down and trapped in a drain. A child's hair or bathing suit can get stuck. Remember to:
  • Make sure that any pool or hot tub drain you use has an anti-entrapment drain cover. It should also have at least 2 drains for each pump which will reduce the powerful suction if 1 drain is blocked.
  • Watch your child closely and make sure she doesn't swim or play near drains. Have her tie her hair back or wear a bathing cap and make sure her swimsuit fits snugly with no loose ties.
Swimming Rules
When swimming, make sure your child knows the following rules:
  • Do swim only if there is a lifeguard or if a grown-up gives you permission to swim.
  • Do take swimming lessons.
  • Do follow water safety rules.
  • Do swim with a buddy.
  • Do wade into the water feet first if you're swimming in a lake, pond or river.
  • Do wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when you are in a boat.
  • Do get out of water right away if you hear thunder or see lightning.
  • Do not stand up in a boat.
  • Do not sit or stand on the edge of a boat or let your arms hang over the edge.
  • Do not eat candy or chew gum when you are swimming.
  • Do not swim when you are tired.
  • Do not dive off piers or rocks.
  • Do not run around a swimming pool, deck or pier.