Water safety isn't just about keeping kids safe in the pool. Bathroom water safety is also important. And things you might not think about — like catchment ponds, drainage ditches and runoff areas in your neighborhood — can be a hazard.
In the U.S.:
Drowning is a leading cause of injury-related death in children, especially those younger than 4 and teens.
Most kids with nonfatal drowning injuries need emergency room care. Half of them will need further care, often in a hospital.
Surviving a drowning can leave someone with severe brain damage — 5%-10% of childhood drowning cases result in long-term disability, such as persistent vegetative state or quadriplegia (the loss of use of all four limbs and torso).
How kids drown varies by age:
Under age 1: Babies most often drown in bathtubs, buckets, and toilets.
1–4 years old: Young children most often drown in swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas.
Older kids, teens, and young adults: Most drownings in these age groups happen in natural bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers.
So it's important for parents to know about how to protect kids, avoid risks, and respond in an emergency.
Water Safety Basics
Supervision is rule #1. Kids must be watched whenever they're around water. This is true whether the water is in a bathtub, a wading pool, an ornamental fish pond, a swimming pool, a spa, an ocean, or a lake.
Young children are especially at risk. They can drown in less than 2 inches (6 centimeters) of water. That means drowning can happen in a sink, toilet bowl, fountains, buckets, inflatable pools, or small bodies of standing water around your home, such as ditches filled with rainwater.
Always watch children closely when they're in or near any water, no matter what their swimming skills. Even kids who know how to swim can be at risk for drowning. For instance, a child could slip and fall on the pool deck, lose consciousness, and fall into the pool and possibly drown.
Young kids and weak swimmers should have an adult swimmer within arm's reach to provide "touch supervision."
Swimming lessons. Swimming lessons are an important part of water safety. Kids can start taking them at age 1. Younger kids often begin with water survival skills training (like learning how to roll onto their back and float). Along with swimming lessons, this training can reduce the risk of drowning in kids ages 1–4. Kids and parents often can take these classes together. Check local recreation centers for classes taught by a qualified instructor. If you don't know how to swim, consider taking lessons.