Every summer, we read and hear about children who die due to accidental drowning. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-4. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most drownings among children ages 1-4 occur in the pool at home. Drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes among children 1-14.
While drowning is a tragedy, it’s one that can be prevented. I’ve compiled a list of tips I commonly share with parents and caregivers to make sure their kids are safe in and near the water.
Children ages 1-5
A common misconception is that kids only drown in deep water. A child can actually drown in as little as 2 inches of water.
- Always keep children within arm’s reach.
- Inflatable aids are not substitutes for adult supervision.
- Enforce pool safety rules. That means no running or pushing.
Children ages 5-12
- Don’t allow horseplay.
- Make sure your child never swims alone and always is within view of an adult.
- Children should receive swimming lessons from a qualified instructor.
- Never allow a child to dive in without first checking the depth.
- Choose a swimming area that is under a lifeguard’s supervision.
- A child always should wear a life jacket while riding in a boat.
- The pool needs to have a 4-foot-tall fence surrounding it on all sides.
- Use a rigid cover for the pool.
- Install compliant, anti-entrapment drain covers.
- Pool owners should know CPR.
Children’s has one of the busiest pediatric emergency programs in the country, with about 90,000 visits each year. We love kids here at Children’s, but we’d rather see them safe at home. With warm weather upon us, we compiled a list of basic tips, with help from our injury prevention experts, to keep kids safe all summer. Together, we can make safe simple.
- Minnesota Department of Health swimming pool links
- Centers for Disease Control unintentional drowning data
- Water Safety for Older Children
- Summer Safety Tips – Sun and Water Safety
Manu Madhok, MD, specializes in pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Minnesota.