How To Prevent Children From Drowning Or Near-Drowning

With summer comes pool time, trips to the beach, visits to the lake, water parks, and more. In short, summer is the perfect time to get cooled down by a nice splash in the water. But along with the fun comes some degree of concern. One of the biggest things on parents’ minds, during the summer especially, is water safety. And for good reason. Drowning is the number one cause of accidental injure-related death in children ages 1-4, and the second leading cause of accidental death for those ages 5-9. In this blog we’ll discuss some drowning prevention tips, the signs someone is drowning, and what to do if your child has a near-drowning experience.


Drowning prevention: water safety

The first step to prevent drowning is to follow some basic water safety tips. Never leave your child unattended by water, for any amount of time. Remember, it only takes less than 2 inches of water to present a drowning hazard. Even a bathtub filled with a couple inches of water can be dangerous. Don’t leave buckets of water, like a mop pail, around the house with a baby or small child around. Keep toilet lids closed (and, ideally, baby proofed) if you have a mobile baby or toddler.

When visiting beaches, only swim in designated areas when a lifeguard is present. Invest in a good life vest and/or floatation device for your child. Always have a phone present when swimming in case of emergencies.

Swimming lessons are recommended for all kids. However, just because your child knows how to swim, does not mean they are not at risk of drowning, and they should still be supervised at all times when in and around water.


What are signs of drowning?

This is important to address, because drowning does not happen the way most people think it does. In movie and TV depictions, the person is often portrayed thrashing about in the water and shouting for help. That’s not how drowning works. A drowning person may be silent because of hyperventilating. Look for a panicked look on the face, as well as a head that’s tilted back, instinctively trying to get more air. The arms may be pushing downwards, trying to grasp something to push themselves up. Drowning is NOT very obvious. That is why drowning prevention is so very important.


If your child has a near-drowning experience

Near-drowning is what happens when a person is under water and can’t breathe for a significant amount of time, but survives.  Drowning is defined as the same sequence of event, but a person does not survive. Regardless of the outcome, if someone is under water long enough and can’t breath for a significant amount of time, organs begin to shut down. If your child is submerged under water, he or she may be unresponsive, have blue coloration to the skin, abdominal swelling, vomiting, coughing, and/or chest pain with shortness of breath. If you pull your child from the water and they aren’t breathing, give CPR (chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) until medical help arrives. If someone is with you, have them call 911. If no one else is available to call, administer CPR for two minutes before calling yourself.


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