Anyone watching children who are in, on or around water must understand that drowning happens quickly and suddenly. Any source of water is a potential drowning hazard, especially for young children and weak swimmers.
Understand the risks
- Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years.
- Drowning usually happens quickly and silently—many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than 5 minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.*
The place where drowning is likely to occur changes with age:
- Children under 1 year most often drown in bath tubs, buckets or toilets.
- Children ages 1 to 4 years most often drown in home pools.
- Older children most often drown in natural water settings.*
Know the water hazards in your community and make sure children stay away. These hazards could include:
- Drainage ditches.
- Garden ponds.
- Creeks and streams.
- Wells and cisterns.
Maintain constant supervision
- Maintain constant supervision of children whenever around water.
- Avoid distractions when supervising children around water.
- Have children or inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone—always maintain constant supervision!
- Block access to unguarded, non-designated swimming areas.
- Alcohol and water do not mix. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.
Know how to respond to an aquatic emergency.
- If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
- Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
- Enroll in Red Cross water safety, first aid and CPR courses to learn what to do. Insist that babysitters, grandparents and others who care for children know these lifesaving skills.
For more information or to enroll in Swimming and Water Safety courses, contact your local American Red Cross chapter.
*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention