Be well: Prevent drowning with these child water safety tips


Opening swimming pools is synonymous with the start of summer – and it’s also the perfect time to brush up on water safety.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the most common cause of death for children ages one to four in the United States, and the second leading cause for children ages five to 14.

Dr. Corinne Brea, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Nemours Children’s Hospital Orlando, Floridasaid that the most important tool for children to avoid drowning is knowledge.

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“As a pediatrician, it’s my responsibility to educate parents and caregivers about how to avoid drowning,” he told Fox News Digital.

“Drowning can happen to anyone. No one is immune to this disaster, and it’s important to know and take proactive steps to ensure water safety.”

Drowning is the most common cause of death for children ages one to four in the U.S. — and the second leading cause of death for children ages five to 14, according to the CDC. (iStock)

Here’s what Brea wants parents and caregivers to know about keeping kids safe in pools and other bodies of water.

Ensure proper supervision

When it comes to water safety, pediatricians often talk about “direct supervision” or “touch supervision,” Brea said.

He added that both are important strategies to prevent drowning, which is a silent process.

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“Touch supervision means an adult is physically in the water, holding and playing with the children,” she said.

“Direct supervision means that a designated adult, a water supervisor, who is Supervision of children In and around the water,” Bria continued. “The water monitor sits by the pool or walks around the pool, constantly watching the kids in and around the water.”

Choose a proper flotation device

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children should always wear a life jacket when around a body of water.

Child in life jacket

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), for their safety, children should always wear life jackets around bodies of water. (iStock)

The AAP recommends using US Coast Guard-approved life jackets or life preservers based on the child’s weight.

“It’s important to check the fit of the life vest on the child to make sure the vest is tight around the waist,” says Brea. “It stops [children] from slipping out of an ill-fitting vest while in the water.”

Also use caution around low water

Babies and toddlers can drown in less than two inches of water, including bathtubs, toilets and 5-gallon buckets, Brea said.

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“It’s important to supervise infants, toddlers and young children around all forms of water indoors and outdoors,” she said.

Enclose all pools with fences

According to the AAP, the majority (58%) of drownings among children four and younger between 2013 and 2015 occurred at home in a pool or spa.

Locked pool gate

The AAP states on its website that fencing all pools is the most effective way to prevent drowning. (iStock)

The AAP notes on its website that fencing all pools is the most effective way to prevent drowning.

The fence must have four sides, be at least four feet high, be climb-proof and have a self-closing, self-latching gate that cannot be reached by children.

Enroll your child in swimming lessons

Participation in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in drowning risks among children ages 1 to 4, studies have shown.

“Drowning is the most common cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 in the United States”.

According to the AAP, most children can begin swimming lessons at one year of age. For children aged four and above, lessons are “compulsory”.

Act quickly

“Remember, drowning is silent and very different from what we see in the movies or on TV,” Bria said.

“If you see a person drowning, pull the person out of the water, call 911 and begin CPR.”

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“If you have any questions about water safety, ask your pediatrician,” she continued. “This is an important conversation.”

Drowning can happen to anyone, Bria added.

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“Be deliberate and intentional about recognizing and mitigating risks to prevent children from drowning,” he said.

To read other episodes in Fox News Digital’s “Be Well” series, Click here.

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