Summer is a fun season filled with water activities that kids and families enjoy. However, swimming pools and water activities can present many hazards for babies and children. In fact, drowning is the number one cause of injury-related death for children ages 1-4. Therefore, it is essential for parents to take all the necessary precautions to prevent drowning. Children who survive drowning can have severe brain damage and long-term disabilities. Young children under 4 often drown in pools, hot tubs, or spas. Older children and adults often drown in lakes or rivers.

Infant Water Safety

It is essential to watch your baby closely and never turn your back when your baby is in the bath or near any water. Babies can drown in just 1 or 2 inches of water if the water is covering their nose and mouth, preventing breathing. Often babies under the age of 1 drown in bathtubs, toilets, or buckets of water.

Bath Time Safety

Bath time can be fun for babies but it is important to keep an eye on your baby and keep your hand on your baby at all times.

  • Keep your hands on your baby at all times while they are bathing
  • Never turn your back, even for a moment
  • Do not ask an older sibling to watch the baby
  • Do not rely on infant bath seats to keep your baby safe while you leave to grab a towel
  • Be sure to check the water temperature before placing your baby inside

Bathroom Safety

The bathroom presents many hazards for babies and curious toddlers. Be sure to take the necessary precautions to prevent accidents.

  • Use safety latches for toilet seat lids
  • Remove the bathtub plug so the bathtub cannot fill up with water if a toddler or small child turns on the faucet
  • Use safety latches on the bathroom door to prevent toddlers from entering

Also, remember to empty any water containers such as buckets, bathtubs, and wading pools immediately after use so children cannot drown in these.

Swimming Pool Safety

Swimming can be an amazing summer activity for families, but it is important to recognize the dangers associated with swimming as well. Never leave a child unattended in the pool or even turn your back or look down at your phone. Children can drown within seconds, virtually silently.

Swimming Pool Precautions to Prevent Drowning

  • Install a fence around the pool that is at least 4 feet high, climb-proof, and with a latch that is out of the child’s reach
  • Choose a pool cover with locking straps to secure the cover or a pool safety net that can catch and support kids that fall on the cover
  • Use pool and gate alarms so you know if someone has entered the pool area or fallen into the pool
  • Be sure to keep pool chemicals in a safe place, out of the reach of children
  • Take turns being the water watcher, an adult who pays attention to the kids without looking down at their phone or turning their back
  • Use life jackets for your children when they are near water
  • Install anti-entrapment drain covers to prevent drain entrapment
  • If a child is missing, check the water first

Swim Lessons

The AAP recommends swim lessons for children as young as 1 year old to help prevent drowning. You can introduce your six month old baby to the water. Swim lessons for children ages 1-4 often incorporate parents. By age 4 most children should be ready to learn how to swim and by 5 or 6 most children can swim on their own. Swimming is a valuable life-long skill.

Essential Features of a Swim Lesson Program

  • Qualified swim instructors that are certified and trained in a learn-to-swim curriculum
  • Teach how to float and tread water
  • Incorporates basic water safety, such as never swimming alone
  • Include multiple sessions to master basic water competency skills
  • Teach self-rescue skills, such as what to do if they fall in the water

For children under 4

  • Age-appropriate environment so children feel safe and secure
  • Incorporate “touch supervision” so an adult is within arm’s reach at all times
  • Ensure the water is pure and safe since young children often swallow water during lessons
  • Keep the water between 87-94 degrees so children don’t get too cold

It is important to be aware of the potential hazards of water and pools. In order to keep your children safe, keep a constant eye on your children while they are in the water. For infants and young children, keep your hand on them at all times in the bath or in the pool. If you have a pool, ensure that it is properly secured to prevent wandering children from falling in.

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