Stay safe this summer! Know these tips for child water safety and drowning prevention

Drowning is a leading cause of death in childhood. Prevent the worst from happening by following simple water safety tips.

Norton Children’s Medical Group

Your child’s pediatrician has advice for keeping kids safer during fun summer activities. Our pediatrician offices are conveniently located across Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Book your appointment directly by location or provider.

Water safety should be a priority for all families, and parents must be aware of the dangers of drowning, especially among young children. Drowning is a leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1 and 4 and a top cause of death among teens.

“Drowning can happen quietly and suddenly, whether or not a child knows how to swim, but practicing water safety can help prevent something tragic from happening,” said Joseph C. Pappalardo, M.D., pediatrician at Norton Children’s Medical Group – Jeffersontown.

6 water safety tips for parents

1) Install a pool fence

Pool fences save lives. If you have an above-ground pool or in-ground pool, a fence can keep children from swimming without supervision. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, toddlers can climb into a pool with a 4-foot wall, even without a ladder. Pool fences should surround the pool on all four sides, be at least four feet high and unable to be climbed, and have a self-latching gate.

2) Clean up after swimming

Unless it is fenced off, an inflatable or portable pool should be emptied out after each use. Children can drown in just 1 to 2 inches of water. Therefore, any baby pools and even buckets should be drained after each use.

3) Always stay within arm’s reach

Adhere to this rule: Stay within arm’s reach of your baby, whether they are in the water or anywhere near water. A child should never be left alone near water, including the bathtub.  

4) Designate a water watcher

Whenever children are playing in a pool or body of water, an adult should be assigned to be the water watcher, even if lifeguards are on duty. This person pays close attention to children whenever they are in the water. This role includes no distractions; the water watcher should not use their cellphone, drink alcohol or be engrossed in conversations with others. Adults can switch off to give each other breaks from water-watching. This person may be designated by wearing a wristband or wearing a hat, which travels with the designated water watcher.

5) Know the dangers in all bodies of water
Drownings happen in any body of water. Most drowning deaths occur in larger bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes, but children and teens also can drown in pools — even if they know how to swim. While boating, children and adults should wear U.S. Coast Guard Approved life jackets.

6) Talk about water safety 

Water safety should be emphasized and taught from a young age. Parents should attend swim lessons with their toddlers. Most children are ready for swim lessons before age 4. Instill good habits at all ages: Get lessons from qualified instructors, teach children safe places to swim, learn to detect hazards (such as choppy water), never swim alone, and do not drink alcohol and swim. Adults and teens should know CPR to assist during any water-related emergencies.