How to Set Up a Safe Swim Environment for Parties and Gatherings

Whether you’re planning to host a laid-back pool party in the comfort of your backyard, organize a lively gathering beside the serene waters of a lake, or spend a day basking in the sun at the beach, it’s crucial to maintain a steadfast focus on safety. 

Unfortunately, too often, a party or gathering turns into a devastating event when a person drowns. Drowning is preventable. Your unwavering attention to safety measures is essential to prevent your delightful day from turning into a tragedy due to drowning. Continue reading for tips and best practices to assess each unique swimming environment and create a safe one so you can make happy memories!

Swimming Environments

Each of these settings offers its unique blend of fun and relaxation, yet they all share the common element of water — a medium that demands respect and caution. 

Backyard Pool Party: Hosting a pool party in your backyard may seem like a controlled environment, but it’s fraught with potential risks. Ensuring the pool area is secure, especially if children are present, is crucial. 

For example, employ measures like installing pool fences with self-closing and self-latching gates, keeping rescue equipment and a first aid kit nearby, and ensuring that non-swimmers have appropriate flotation devices. Additionally, it’s wise to designate a responsible adult to keep an eye on swimmers at all times, as distractions can lead to accidents.

Lake-Side Get-Together: The natural beauty of a lake sets the perfect backdrop for a gathering. However, lakes can be unpredictable, with varying depths, underwater hazards, and changing weather conditions. Ensuring everyone wears life jackets is a crucial safety measure. 

Furthermore, being aware of the local wildlife and respecting their habitat is essential. Setting up a designated swimming area, away from boating and fishing activities, can help keep everyone safe and minimize the risk of accidents.

Sunny Day at the Beach: A beach day is a quintessential summer activity with unique challenges. The dynamic nature of the ocean, with its tides, currents, and waves, requires vigilant supervision. Always swim in areas supervised by lifeguards, and pay attention to flags and warning signs indicating dangerous conditions. 

Sandbars, rip currents, and jellyfish are just a few of the hazards beachgoers may encounter. Educating your group about ocean safety can be lifesaving, such as teaching them how to escape a rip current (swimming parallel to the shore).

Across all these scenarios, the underlying principle is preparation and awareness. Understanding the environment you’re in, equipping yourself and your guests with the necessary safety gear, and having a clear plan in case of emergencies are all critical components of a safe and enjoyable water-based activity. In essence, putting safety first not only ensures that everyone has a good time but also that they return home with nothing but fond memories.

Tips and Best Practices to Create a Safe Swimming Environment

  • Understand the Basics of Water Safety

Before you host your gathering, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the basics of water safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines vital information on preventing drowning and promoting water safety, including supervising swimmers, ensuring everyone wears appropriate flotation devices, and knowing how to respond in an emergency.

  • Establish Swimming Rules

Before anyone enters the water, set clear swimming rules. For example, no diving in shallow water, staying within designated swimming areas, and not swimming under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Posting these rules visibly around the swimming area can serve as a constant reminder to your guests.

  • Implement a Buddy System

Encourage using a buddy system, where swimmers pair up to keep an eye on each other. The buddy system is particularly effective in ensuring that no one is left alone in the water, making it easier to spot if someone is in trouble.

  • Prepare for Emergencies

Ensure emergency equipment, including life rings, reaching poles, and a first aid kit, are readily available. Ensure that your phone is charged and accessible to call for help if needed. Familiarize yourself with the signs of drowning and how to perform a safe rescue if necessary.

  • Check the Swimming Area

Before the party begins, inspect the swimming area for hazards. Check for clear water, proper chemical levels, and the absence of sharp edges or broken tiles in pools. Look for hidden underwater hazards, strong currents, or unstable conditions in natural bodies of water. You can often find information on water quality and safety for public beaches on local government websites.

  • Use Appropriate Safety Equipment

Ensure all swimmers, especially children or those who are not strong swimmers, have access to appropriate safety equipment such as life jackets. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, wearing a life jacket can significantly reduce the risk of drowning. Ensure the life jackets are U.S. Coast Guard-approved and fit correctly.

  • Educate Guests on Water Safety

Take a few minutes before swimming activities to educate your guests on water safety. Discuss the importance of the buddy system, the rules of the swimming area, and what to do in an emergency. Knowledge is a powerful tool in preventing accidents.

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

You can create a safe swim environment for your parties and gatherings by following these steps. Remember, preparation and education ensure everyone can enjoy the water safely. Always prioritize the well-being of your guests and be ready to act in an emergency. Let’s prioritize water safety to ensure fun and safe experiences for everyone involved.

Together, we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family or community’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.

How to Organize a Community Drowning Prevention Workshop

Drowning accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of age or swimming ability. It’s a significant public health issue worldwide, especially in communities near water bodies. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. It’s also the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes for children five to fourteen.

Understanding these statistics highlights the importance of drowning prevention efforts in communities. Organizing a drowning prevention workshop can be vital in educating and equipping individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to prevent drowning tragedies. Continue reading to learn more about the steps you can take to organize an effective community drowning prevention workshop.

Step 1: Identify Your Audience

Begin by identifying your target audience. Are you focusing on parents, children, swimmers, or the general public? Understanding your audience helps tailor the workshop’s content to their needs. Gather local demographic data to address your community’s specific risks and challenges related to drowning.

Step 2: Collaborate with Local Organizations

Partnerships with local organizations like Stop Drowning Now, schools, swimming clubs, and emergency services can be invaluable. These organizations can provide resources, expertise, and support. For instance, local lifeguards can offer practical demonstrations. Reach out to these organizations and propose collaborating for the workshop.

Step 3: Secure a Venue

The first step is to secure a venue for your drowning prevention workshop. Consider community centers, schools, libraries, or recreational facilities with pools. Make sure the location is ADA-compliant and accessible to all.

Step 4: Designing the Workshop Curriculum

The curriculum of the drowning prevention workshop should cover theoretical knowledge and practical skills. For example, topics might include water safety rules, recognizing drowning signs, and basic first aid or CPR training. Interactive elements like Q&A sessions, demonstrations, and hands-on practice are beneficial. Consider utilizing statistics and data in your workshop to emphasize the risks of drowning.

An effective community drowning prevention workshop should achieve the following goals:

● Educate on local drowning statistics and high-risk scenarios

● Demonstrate proper pool and water safety techniques

● Inform families on options for swim lessons and water survival skills

● Distribute educational materials and water safety kits to all attendees

Step 5: Identify Speakers

Line up qualified speakers on drowning prevention like:

● Lifeguards

● Swim instructors

● Health educators

● EMS personnel

● Parent advocates

Step 6: Marketing and Promotion

Effectively marketing your workshop ensures maximum attendance and impact. Utilize social media platforms, local newspapers, emails through listservs, and community bulletin boards. In addition, ask collaborating organizations to promote the event. Creating eye-catching flyers and leveraging local networks can also be effective strategies.

Hosting the Workshop

On the Day of the Workshop:

Preparation: Ensure that all the logistical aspects are in place before participants arrive. For example, check the venue to ensure all equipment is working and the materials are ready.

Welcome Participants: Greet attendees as they arrive to set a positive tone and help make participants feel comfortable.

Time Management: Keep track of time to ensure that the workshop stays on schedule. It’s important to start and end sessions on time.

Engaging with Participants During the Workshop:

Facilitate Discussions: Actively lead discussions by asking open-ended questions, encouraging quieter participants to share their thoughts, and summarizing key points to keep the conversation on track.

Encourage Participation in Practical Sessions: For hands-on activities, walk around the room, offer help, and engage with participants as they work. Show enthusiasm and interest in their work.

Manage Group Dynamics: Be attentive to group dynamics. Ensure that all voices are heard and manage any conflicts or disruptions that may arise.

After the Workshop:

Collect Feedback: Use surveys, questionnaires, or informal discussions to gather participants’ thoughts about the workshop. Ask specific questions about what they found helpful and enjoyable, and ask participants to identify areas that need improvement.

Assess Effectiveness: Review the feedback to assess the workshop’s effectiveness. Consider both the positive responses and constructive criticisms.

Identify Areas for Improvement: Look for patterns or common themes in the feedback. These insights will be valuable for planning and improving future workshops.

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Organizing a community drowning prevention workshop is a proactive step toward enhancing water safety and potentially saving lives. By following these steps and collaborating with local resources, you can create an informative and impactful event that resonates with your community.

Together, we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family or community’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.

Understanding Drowning Risks: Open Water vs. Pools

Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death, with an estimated 360,000 drowning deaths annually worldwide. Drowning can occur in open water environments like lakes, rivers, and oceans and confined bodies of water like pools. However, the risks differ significantly between these locations. Continue reading for insights into safer water practices for open water and pools.

Open Water and Pools Share Several Drowning Risks

Several drowning risks are shared by open water and swimming pools, including:

  1. Lack of Supervision: One of the primary factors leading to drowning incidents in both open water and swimming pools is the absence of adequate supervision. The risk is exceptionally high for children and non-swimmers. Even a momentary lapse can lead to a tragic outcome without someone to monitor and intervene in emergencies. Supervision should be active and continuous, with adults keeping children within arm’s reach and avoiding distractions such as mobile phones or socializing.
  2. Inability to Swim: Individuals who lack swimming skills or are weak swimmers are at a significantly increased risk of drowning in any water setting. In open waters, unpredictable conditions like currents and waves can overwhelm inexperienced swimmers. Similarly, depths and edges can be misleading in pools, leading to panic and accidents. It’s crucial for everyone, especially children, to receive formal swimming lessons and water safety education.
  3. Alcohol Use: The consumption of alcohol is a common risk factor for drowning in both open waters and pools. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, and coordination, which are essential for safe water navigation. It can also lead to risk-taking behaviors, reduced inhibitions, and overestimating one’s swimming abilities. The combination of these effects dramatically increases the likelihood of accidents and drowning incidents.
  4. Seizures: For individuals with seizure disorders, the risk of drowning is heightened in aquatic environments. A seizure episode while in the water can lead to a loss of consciousness or control, making it difficult or impossible to keep one’s head above water. This risk is present in open water’s unpredictability and pools’ contained environments. It’s essential for individuals with seizure disorders to swim with a companion and inform lifeguards of their condition.
  5. Environmental Factors: In open water, environmental factors like strong currents, waves, and sudden changes in depth can catch swimmers off guard, leading to drowning incidents. Slippery surfaces, unclear water, and crowded conditions can create pool hazards.
  6. Fatigue and Exhaustion: Swimming requires physical exertion, and both open-water and pool swimmers can become fatigued, especially if they overestimate their stamina or swim in challenging conditions. Fatigue can lead to an inability to stay afloat or return to safety.
  7. Temperature Extremes: Cold water can cause hypothermia, leading to disorientation and exhaustion. In contrast, extremely warm water can lead to overheating or dehydration. Both scenarios are risky in any water setting.
  8. Lack of Safety Equipment: In both open water and pools, the absence of safety equipment like life jackets, pool fences, and rescue devices increases the risk of drowning, particularly for children and non-swimmers.

By understanding and mitigating these risks, swimmers can enjoy water activities more safely in open-water and swimming pool environments.

Open Water Elevates Drowning Risks

Drowning incidents in open water, such as oceans, rivers, and lakes, significantly surpass those in swimming pools. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that natural water bodies are the sites of over 90% of drowning deaths globally. The alarming statistic can be attributed to several key factors that amplify the risks associated with open-water environments:

  1. Unpredictable Environmental Conditions: Open waters are inherently unpredictable. Factors such as uneven surfaces, intense and often hidden currents, rapidly changing weather patterns, and potential marine hazards like rocks or aquatic life contribute to the dangerous nature of these environments.
  2. Lack of Supervision and Safety Measures: Unlike pools, many natural water settings do not have lifeguards or adequate safety oversight. This absence of structured safety protocols and immediate rescue assistance heightens the danger for swimmers, especially in emergencies.
  3. Exposure to Cold Water Temperatures: The temperatures in natural bodies of water can be deceivingly cold, leading to the rapid onset of hypothermia. This condition can incapacitate swimmers, impairing their judgment and physical abilities and increasing the likelihood of drowning.
  4. Challenges Due to Remote Locations: Many open water sites are remote. In an emergency, the distance and difficulty in accessing these locations can delay rescue efforts, compounding the severity of the situation.

Combining these factors makes open water a much more treacherous environment for swimming and water-based activities, necessitating heightened awareness and caution from individuals engaging in such activities.

The Drowning Risks of Swimming Pools 

While swimming pools offer a more controlled environment than open water, with clear water, defined depths, and often the presence of lifeguards, they are not risk-free. Drowning in pools, especially among children, is a significant concern. Here are some common risks associated with drowning in pools:

  1. Lack of Barriers: Children or pets can easily access pools without fences or barriers, increasing the risk of accidental drownings.
  2. Slippery Surfaces: Wet and slippery surfaces around pools can lead to falls into the water, which is particularly dangerous for small children and older adults.
  3. Poor Pool Maintenance: Unclear water and malfunctioning pool equipment can hinder rescue efforts and increase drowning risks.
  4. Overcrowding: Overcrowded pools make it difficult to notice someone struggling in the water.
  5. Lack of Awareness of Water Depth: Misjudging the depth of the pool can lead to diving accidents and potential drownings.

Implementing safety measures like supervision, learning swimming skills, installing barriers, maintaining the pool area, and having the necessary safety equipment on hand to minimize these risks is crucial.

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Whether you’re enjoying a day at the beach, boating on a river, or swimming at a pool, enjoy the water by being attentive and aware of your surroundings.
Together, we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Donate now to help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.

Implementing Drowning Prevention Strategies in Schools

Water possesses an almost magnetic charm to children. The joyous giggles in the bathtub, the gleeful splashing at a toddler’s water table, the boisterous playfulness at the local swimming pool, or the sense of adventure that beckons from the vast expanse of oceans and lakes — each of these water experiences captivates young minds. Yet beneath the laughter and excitement, there lurks a silent danger. 

Drowning remains one of the top causes of unintentional death of children one to fourteen, transforming what should be a source of delight into a heartwrenching tragedy.  Drowning is preventable, and sharing that message with parents, caregivers, children, and youth is imperative.

Considering that kids spend a significant amount of time at school, they’re ideal venues to reach as many people as possible to implement drowning prevention strategies for several reasons:

● Education and Curriculum: Schools are fundamental education centers where children can learn about various safety topics as part of the curriculum. Drowning prevention can easily be integrated into health education or physical education classes.

Reach and Regularity: Schools reach many children regularly, ensuring consistent and repeated messaging. 

● Structured Learning Environment: Schools’ structured learning environments provide a controlled setting for teaching and practicing safety skills. They can provide theoretical and practical lessons, including supervised swimming lessons in some cases.

Peer Learning: Children often learn well among peers. Schools provide a social environment where students can learn from each other and encourage safe behaviors among their friends.

● Resource Availability: Many schools have the necessary resources to provide comprehensive education, including access to qualified instructors and educational materials. 

Stop Drowning Now offers a comprehensive engaging curriculum using stories and hands-on, age-appropriate activities. The fun program is free to educators and enables children to grasp the safety concepts in a non-threatening way, making it memorable and enjoyable. Components of the program include:

Flagship Curriculum (22 hour comprehensive education)
Water Safety Week (5 hour program)
Water Safety Presentation (1 hour program)
Water Safety Puppet Show (45 minute program)

● Inclusion of All Backgrounds: Schools are inclusive, educating children from various backgrounds and communities, some of which may not have access to water safety education at home.

● Parental Involvement: School programs often involve parents, providing information that can be taken home, extending the reach of water safety education beyond the classroom.

● Early Intervention: Starting education early in life in schools can establish safe behaviors that can last a lifetime, reducing the risk of drowning in childhood and later in life.

There are many steps schools can take to better educate students and families on water safety and prevent drownings.

Basic Swimming Skills 

Offering swimming lessons through physical education programs or after-school activities provides essential water safety skills. According to the National Institutes of Health, participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children ages one to four.

Swimming skills such as floating, treading water, and performing safe water exits allow kids to better handle unexpected falls into water.

Make swimming lessons available to all grade levels, starting from an early age, to ensure that children develop early water competency.

Water Safety Education

Dedicate time during health and physical education courses to teach water safety principles. Provide age-appropriate educational materials.

Key topics include the dangers of swimming alone, proper use of life jackets, what to do if you see someone in distress in the water, and basic CPR and rescue techniques.

Emphasize the importance of constant adult supervision around water.

Pool Safety Policies

For schools with on-campus pools, implement safety policies such as assigned lifeguards, “buddy systems,” and disciplinary procedures around running near and pushing others into the pool area.

Post highly visible pool rules signage and depth markers. Keep pool chemicals secure and locked.

Require enrolled students to pass basic swimming tests if they wish to access the pool outside of class time. Limit access without supervision.

Awareness of Natural Water Risks

Natural water bodies presnet unique risks. Schools organizaing activities in natural waters should educated students about these hazards and check weather forcasts to avoid dangerous situations.

Parent/Community Outreach

Send drowning risk and prevention information home to families. Highlight ways parents can practice water safety at home.

Partner with local health departments, water safety coalitions, swimming instructors, and lifeguard associations to provide community water safety courses and resources.

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Implementing multifaceted drowning prevention strategies can equip students with lifelong water safety skills. By making water hazard education and training a priority, schools have the opportunity to prevent many avoidable tragedies.
Together, we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Donate now to help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.

The Crucial Role of Pool Barriers in Drowning Prevention

Swimming pools are an excellent source of recreation, exercise, and relaxation. Yet, as much as we cherish those refreshing dives and playful splashes, it’s crucial to remember the safety side. Pool barriers are one of the most effective safety measures available. 

Understanding the Drowning Risks

Before delving into pool barriers, it’s essential to comprehend the gravity of drowning risks. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that drowning is the top cause of unintentional death for children ages one to four and the second most common cause of death for children five through fourteen. Given that the majority of these drownings happen in residential pools, it’s impossible to overstate the imperative for pool barriers.

What are Pool Barriers?

Pool barriers are physical obstructions designed to restrict access to a pool area, especially unsupervised. For example, research suggests that fencing can prevent more than half of all swimming pool drownings of young children. Pool barriers can include:

● Fences

● Gates with self-latching mechanisms

● Pool covers

● Door and window alarms

To work effectively, pool barriers must:

● Completely surround the pool

● Be at least 4 feet high with no footholds or handholds that could help a child climb over

● Have self-closing, self-latching gates that open out from the pool

● Have latches higher than a child can reach

Solid barriers like fiberglass, metal, or mesh provide the greatest protection. While natural barriers like bushes provide camouflage, they are not effective pool barriers.  

The Benefits of Pool Barriers

Reduces Access for Children

Children are curious by nature, and a pool can be enticing. Barriers ensure children cannot easily access the pool area without adult supervision.

Acts as a Deterrent for Unauthorized Access

For public pools or homes in densely populated areas, a barrier prevents unauthorized individuals from accessing the pool, minimizing potential liability issues.

Provides Peace of Mind

Knowing a protective measure in place can grant homeowners and parents peace of mind, even if they’re momentarily distracted.

Key Features to Consider

When selecting a pool barrier, consider:

Height: A barrier should be tall enough to prevent children from climbing. It’s generally recommended that fences be at least four feet.

Gap Size: Gapes in barriers, like fence slats, should be narrow enough to prevent children from squeezing through.

Self-latching and Self-Closing Gates: Gates should automatically close and latch behind the person, ensuring they remain closed after use.

Pool Barrier Tips and Maintenance

Proper installation is vital, but maintaining barriers over time is also essential. Here are some tips for keeping your pool barrier safe and working correctly:

● Check monthly for damage and make any needed repairs

● Test the self-latching gates regularly and lubricate mechanisms as needed

● Keep latches properly aligned and carefully re-attach any that are pulled off

● Maintain barrier gates in good working order

● Remove any items or debris children could use as footholds or handholds

● Trim back nearby trees/branches used to climb over

Installing a pool alarm can provide an added layer of protection but should not replace a physical barrier.

Laws and Regulations on Pool Barriers

Many states and local jurisdictions have laws requiring pool barriers for both in-ground and above-ground pools. Parents and pool owners must understand their locality’s specific legal requirements. Building permits typically require an inspection of the barrier before filling the pool. Failure to comply with pool barrier laws can result in significant fines.

Prioritizing Pool Barrier Safety

Structural barriers and vigilant adult supervision are must-haves for any home pool. Properly utilized pool barriers have proven lifesaving effects by protecting children and preventing tragic drownings. All pool owners share responsibility for understanding and implementing proper safeguards like code-compliant barriers. When families take advantage of simple safety measures, swimming pools can remain an enjoyable backyard addition.

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Pool barriers are an essential tool in the fight against unintentional drownings. Restricting unsupervised access to pool areas serves as the first line of defense to prevent tragic incidents. Understanding the importance of pool barriers and adhering to local regulations ensures we can enjoy the pleasures of a pool while minimizing the risks.

Together, we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family or community’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.

Common Misconceptions About Drowning

Drowning is a terrifying experience often misunderstood and misrepresented in popular culture. It’s not the flailing arms and desperate cries for help that movies and TV shows portray. It’s a silent, lonely struggle where the victim often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. 

Unintentional drowning is also one of the leading causes of accidental death worldwide. Anyone can drown. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes for children 1 to 14. Toddlers and teen boys have been identified as the most susceptible.

Continue reading to learn about the most common misconceptions about drowning.

Misconception 1: Drawing People Are Noisy and Splash A Lot

Reality: One of the most common misconceptions about drowning is that it’s a loud and chaotic event, with victims splashing around, waving for help, and shouting. However, drowning is often silent and unnoticeable. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, a drowning person usually cannot call for help as their mouth sinks below and reappears above the surface of the water, making it difficult to breathe, let alone shout. Additionally, their arms might not be free to wave or splash as they instinctively press down on the water’s surface to lift themselves for air. It’s always crucial to watch people in the water, particularly children, even if they seem fine.

Misconception 2: Drowning Takes a Long Time

Reality: Drowning can occur quickly and often goes unnoticed by those nearby. It can take as little as 20 to 60 seconds for a child to drown and slightly longer for adults. To put it in perspective, a child could drown in the time it takes to look at your cell phone or send a text message. That’s why it’s essential to supervise children closely when in or around water and for adults to be aware of their limitations and take appropriate precautions. 

Misconception 3: Only Poor Swimmers Drown

Reality: Although knowing how to swim can help, even strong swimmers can drown, particularly in open water where conditions can change rapidly. Currents, waves, and cold water can all lead to exhaustion or hypothermia, making it difficult or impossible to swim to safety. Drowning can result from any situation leading to difficulty breathing while in the water, including getting entangled in underwater objects, being caught in a rip current, or even suffering a medical emergency while swimming.

Although knowing how to swim doesn’t necessarily prevent drowning and is not a substitute for adult supervision when children are in or around water, everyone should learn how to swim. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children four and older can learn to swim. Children ages one to four might be able to learn depending on their physical and emotional development. 

Several organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and municipal and neighborhood pools, provide low-cost and even free swimming lessons.

Misconception 4: Flotation Devices Are 100% Safe

Reality: While flotation devices like life jackets can provide an added layer of safety, they are not foolproof. For example, the wrong-size life jacket or one not fastened correctly can slip off, and inflatable toys can easily puncture or flip over. Always ensure your devices comply with the US Coast Guard recommendations.

Misconception 5: Drowning Only Happens in Deep Water

Reality: Drowning can occur in any body of water, regardless of depth. People, especially children, can drown in swimming pools, bathtubs, buckets, rivers, lakes, and oceans. Shallow water can be a drowning hazard, and many drowning incidents occur in shallow water, often defined as water less than five feet deep. Strong currents, uneven surfaces, or tripping can lead to drowning, even in shallow depths.

Misconception 6: Alcohol Doesn’t Impact Swimming Abilities

Reality: Alcohol significantly impairs judgment, coordination, and reaction times. Swimming under the influence increases the risk of drowning. According to the CDC, alcohol is involved in up to 70% of water recreation deaths among adolescents and adults.

The Truth: Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Enjoying a day at the beach, by the pool, boating, or playing water sports can be fun and relaxing, but only if everyone’s safe. Make sure you know the realities about drowning. Together, we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.

Adapting Water Safety Practices for Children With Disabilities

Water safety is crucial for everyone but becomes even more critical for children with disabilities. Ensuring safe and inclusive aquatic experiences for these children requires carefully rethinking and adapting standard water safety practices. Fortunately, strategies, tools, and procedures are available to ensure that children of all abilities can safely enjoy water-related activities. 

Understanding the Risks

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of injury death for young children one to fourteen. For children with disabilities, the risk is even more significant due to factors like limited mobility, communication challenges, cognitive issues, and decreased muscle strength. For example, the risk is more than double for children with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.

The Importance of a Customized Approach

Every child with a disability has unique needs. Some may have physical disabilities that limit their mobility, while others might have intellectual disabilities that affect their understanding and response to danger. Therefore, a customized approach is crucial to address each child’s specific needs and limitations. 

Adaptive Swimming Lessons

Swimming lessons are an integral part of water safety. Organizations like the YMCA and American Red Cross offer adaptive swimming lessons for children with disabilities. 

Swimming instructors trained in adaptive techniques can provide personalized lessons to match a child’s abilities and needs. For example, they might use tactile instruction for children with visual impairments or visual cues for children with hearing impairments.

Water Safety Tools 

Many tools are available to help children with disabilities.

Adaptive Swimwear

Adaptive swimwear, designed for comfort, mobility, and safety, can help children with disabilities feel more secure in the water. Features may include additional buoyancy, quick-drying materials, and easy-to-use fasteners.

Personal Flotation Devices

Personal flotation devices (PFDs), like life jackets, are indispensable tools for water safety. Many PFDs are specifically designed for individuals with disabilities, including those that offer additional neck support, adjustable straps, and easy-to-grab handles. Always ensure the PFD fits correctly and is appropriate for your child’s weight and size.

Pool Lifts and Ramps

Pool lifts and ramps can facilitate safe entry and exit from the water for children with physical disabilities. Consider installing these in your home pool or seek out public pools with these features.

Alarms

Pool alarms can alert adults if a child falls into the water. Door alarms can notify adults when a child approaches a pool or body of water.

Water-Resistant Communication Devices

For non-verbal children or those with speech impairments, these devices can help them communicate distress or other needs.

Adapted Water Safety Measures

A few key water safety adaptations for children with disabilities include:

Supervision

Constant, focused adult supervision is recommended to keep all children safe in and around water. However, adults supervising children with disabilities should be educated about the child’s specific limitations and the possible associated risks.

Communication

Using clear, simple, and repeated instructions benefits all children, especially those with cognitive or hearing disabilities. Visual aids are an excellent way to enhance communication.

Emergency Response Plan

Ensure that everyone involved in your child’s care understands how to respond in a water-related emergency. The plan should include administering CPR, using emergency contact numbers, and understanding the signs of drowning.

Special Considerations for Specific Disabilities

Every child is unique, and so is every disability. Here are a few specific considerations for various disabilities:

Physical Disabilities

If your child has mobility issues, consider swim aids that offer more buoyancy, or look for accessible pool designs with ramps or lifts.

Sensory Processing Issues

Children with sensory issues may be overwhelmed by large, noisy pools. Consider quieter times for swimming lessons, or try water-resistant noise-canceling headphones.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are drawn to water but may not understand the dangers. Regularly reinforce safety rules, and consider additional safety measures at home, like alarms on doors leading to pools.

Training Programs and Resources

Numerous organizations provide adaptive swimming and water safety programs for children with disabilities. Programs offered by Adaptive Aquatics, USA Swimming’s Adapted Swimming, and Special Olympics focus on teaching basic water safety skills, enhancing comfort in the water, and providing a safe environment for children with disabilities to enjoy aquatic activities.

Local community resources can provide additional support and guidance on adapting water safety practices. Contact local disability organizations and support groups, swimming instructors, and therapists for specific advice about your child’s disability.

Working Together to Prevent Drowning

With the right practices and resources, children with disabilities can safely enjoy water activities. It’s always better to be overly cautious about water safety. Stay informed, stay prepared, and stay vigilant.

Together, we can end drowning and save lives and heartache! Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep all kids safe.

The Importance of Water Safety Education in Schools: A Lifesaving Knowledge

Water is an essential part of life, whether as a means to survive or a source of enjoyment. However, it can also pose serious risks, particularly to children who might not fully comprehend the dangers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, claiming an estimated 236,000 lives each year. 

Why Water Safety Education Is Essential in Schools

Water safety education is integral to providing a well-rounded education. About ten people, including children 14 or younger, die daily from unintentional drowning in the US. Educating children on water safety can significantly reduce these numbers.

The Benefits of Water Safety Education

Schools have direct access to children, making it easier to ensure they receive water safety education. Schools offer a structured learning environment where children can learn, practice, and receive feedback on their understanding of water safety. Finally, a school environment involves peer learning, and fostering a water safety culture. Teaching water safety in schools provides multiple benefits.

Lifesaving Skills

Water safety skills are more than learning to swim. They include teaching children to understand water environments, recognize the dangers, and know how to respond to emergencies. As a result, teaching water safety in schools arms children with potentially life-saving skills. 

Confidence and Physical Health

In addition to being a lifesaving skill, swimming lessons can also build confidence and improve overall physical health. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH),  children who participate in swimming lessons exhibit increased flexibility and muscular strength, decreased depression and improved mood, and improved physical stamina compared to their non-swimming peers.

Accident Prevention

Drowning can occur in a matter of seconds and often happens quietly, without any noticeable struggle or calls for help. While there’s no guarantee, water safety education can teach children to avoid dangerous situations in or near water.

Implementing Water Safety Education in Schools

Given the compelling benefits, how can schools integrate water safety education effectively?

School Curriculum

It’s vital to incorporate water safety lessons into the existing school curriculum. Various organizations like Stop Drowning Now offer resources and guidelines that schools can utilize to teach students water safety and swimming skills effectively. For example, the Stop Drowning Now Educator Platform provides a comprehensive curriculum suite filled with songs, games, stories, and other hands-on, age-appropriate activities that fully engage children.

In addition, schools should consider integrating water safety into their science curriculum. That could highlight the science behind water safety by incorporating lessons on buoyancy, water pressure, and the physics of swimming. It’s an approach that can deepen students’ understanding of water-related concepts and enhance the importance of safety measures.

Another idea includes organizing interactive activities like role-playing scenarios, simulations, or games that involve water safety situations. The hands-on approach can help students develop critical thinking skills and empower them to make informed decisions in real-life water-related situations.

Training Teachers

Teachers should be adequately trained in water safety instruction. Providing teachers with the necessary training ensures they can effectively convey water safety information to students and conduct practical and effective lessons.

Collaboration With Local Organizations

Schools should consider partnering with local organizations like Stop Drowning Now, the Red Cross, swim clubs, lifeguard associations, and other water safety organizations. These partnerships can provide practical resources and expert guidance to exchange water safety education.

The Future of Water Safety Education

With technological advancements, water safety education is increasingly accessible. Online platforms, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality tools are revolutionizing how children can learn about water safety. 

Water safety education in schools isn’t just about teaching children to swim. It’s about instilling in them a deep respect for water and understanding the potential dangers. It’s about equipping them with the knowledge they need to stay safe and respond correctly in emergencies. 

Teaching water safety is more than just an addition to the curriculum; it’s an investment in the safety and well-being of our children. Water safety knowledge can mean the difference between life and death, and every child deserves the chance to learn, grow, and swim safely. 

As parents, educators, and policymakers, we have a collective responsibility to prioritize this crucial aspect of education. Through collaborative efforts and an unwavering commitment to water safety, we can work toward a future where drowning and water-related tragedies are a thing of the past.

Working Together To Prevent Drowning

Together, we can end drowning and save lives and heartache! Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep all kids safe.

The Deadly Connection Between Alcohol and Drowning

Kicking back by the pool, on the beach, or while boating with a beer, a glass of wine, or another alcoholic beverage might seem like a great way to relax. However, significant risks are associated with drinking alcohol on or in the water. 

Alcohol and Drowning: Unpacking the Facts

The statistics surrounding alcohol-related drownings are shocking. According to studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation.

Alcohol is the number one contributing factor in recreational boating deaths, according to the US Coast Guard. A person operating a boat with a blood alcohol level over 0.1 percent (approximately four to five drinks in about an hour) is 16 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than one who doesn’t consume alcohol. And the boat operator isn’t the only one impacted by alcohol. Inebriated passengers risk slipping and falling overboard from the deck or at the dock.

Alcohol consumption also increases the risk of adolescent and teen drowning. Compounding the risk for this age group is that the frontal lobe that controls impulse control and decision-making is not yet fully developed.

How Alcohol Increases the Risk of Drowning

Understanding the physiological effects of alcohol helps to uncover why it increases the risk of drowning. Two of the key ways alcohol influences the body include:

Impaired Judgment and Movement

Alcohol impairs balance, coordination, and judgment, which is detrimental in any situation but can be deadly when in or near water. The nervous system is affected by alcohol, diminishing motor control. When inebriated, a person may struggle with simple tasks like walking, let alone swimming. Consuming alcohol makes it far more challenging to stay afloat or swim to safety.

In addition, alcohol hinders cognitive functions, including a person’s decision-making abilities. Intoxicated individuals are more likely to take risks, like swimming in unsafe areas or unsafe conditions. For example, swimmers may overestimate their abilities, underestimate the distance to the shore, or misjudge the water’s depth.

Consuming alcohol can also distort your judgment while supervising children in or on the water.

Hypothermia

Alcohol causes your blood vessels to dilate, or widen, known as vasodilation. It increases the flow of warm blood to the surface of your skin, creating a temporary sense of warmth. However, this also allows for more rapid heat loss to the environment, especially in cold conditions like water. So, even though you might feel warm initially, your body is losing heat quicker than it would otherwise.

Alcohol also affects the body’s thermoregulatory mechanisms, which maintain your core body temperature. It can hinder the body’s ability to recognize and respond to cold, increasing the risk of hypothermia.

Because alcohol can impair your judgment and motor control, it may be more challenging to recognize the signs of hypothermia or to take appropriate actions to prevent it.

Preventative Measures

Understanding the risks is the first step toward preventing alcohol-related drownings. However, reducing the risks also requires implementing effective preventive measures such as:

Public Education and Awareness

Increased education about the dangers of combining alcohol and water-related activities can influence behavior changes. Public health campaigns, like the UK’s Royal Life Saving Society’s “Don’t Drink and Drown, ” raised awareness about the dangers of mixing alcohol and water activities.

Policy Interventions

Enforcement of laws against operating boats or other watercraft while under the influence of alcohol can reduce alcohol-related drowning incidents. Policymakers can also consider regulations restricting alcohol consumption near or on the water.

Responsible Drinking

Encouraging responsible drinking habits, like limiting or avoiding alcohol intake during water-based activities, and designating sober supervisors, can significantly decrease the risk of drowning.

Working Together To Prevent Drowning

The connection between alcohol and drowning is a significant public health issue. Understanding and addressing the deadly correlation can save countless lives and ensure everyone safely enjoys water activities. Safety should always be the top priority when near, in, or on the water.

Stay informed, stay sober, and stay safe.

Together, we can end drowning and save lives and heartache! Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep all kids safe.

World Drowning Prevention Day Promotes Awareness and Vigilance

Each year there are an estimated 236,000 unintentional drowning deaths worldwide, with nearly 4,000 unintentional drowning deaths in the US. Across the US, unintentional drowning deaths continue to remain high in 2022. 

   ●     Drowning deaths are up more than 90% in Palm Beach County, Florida. 

   ●     Drowning fatalities in the Great Lakes continue to increase, with more than 45 deaths already reported. 

   ●     Colorado Parks and Wildlife fears that 2022 could exceed the state’s worst year of drowning deaths in 2020.

   ●     Baby neck floats have resulted in the death of one infant and the hospitalization of another.

Although anyone can drown, the toll is more significant for young people. More children one through four die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects. In addition, the most recent annual drowning and submersion report released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows fatal child drownings and nonfatal drowning injuries in children under age 15 remain high.

Drowning Doesn’t Just Happen to Others

Every year our hearts break when we read the horrifying statistics. We convince ourselves that it won’t happen to us. But unfortunately, the families of those who drowned probably had those same thoughts. The harsh reality is that anyone can drown. 

Certain situations increase the likelihood of a drowning accident; however, no one is immune to the possibility of the dangers of water. 

World Drowning Prevention Day 

July 25, 2022, marks the second annual World Drowning Prevention Day. Developed by the United Nations General Assembly, it aims to raise awareness about the disastrous effects of drowning on families and society, informing everyone about life-saving ways to prevent it. 

Why World Drowning Prevention Day Is Important

●     It helps to save lives


The day is devoted to learning how we can ensure public safety near bodies of water. For example, there are numerous ways to prevent drowning, from life jackets and float lines to paddlers and compatible swimwear.

●     It helps spread the word


National Drowning Prevention Day raises awareness of the deadly consequences of drowning. In addition, it provides practical and lifesaving methods for preventing drowning that may be shared online and offline.

●     It encourages strict supervision of children


Recommendations include constant adult supervision and barricades surrounding backyard pools. It also reinforces that providing adequate supervision in any aquatic environment, including the bathtub, is critical.

●     Emergency training

National Drowning Prevention Day encourages more people to seek training to know how to react during water emergencies to safeguard the lives of people affected by drownings. For example, a lifeguard’s instruction on water safety can significantly minimize the number of drownings in the community.

●     It highlights the crisis


One of the main goals of World Drowning Prevention Day is to raise awareness of the crisis and educate people about water safety precautions.

Ways To Observe World Drowning Prevention Day 

Everyone can get involved on World Drowning Prevention Day! 

●     Enroll in swimming lessons


Enroll in swimming lessons to mark World Drowning Prevention Day. If you already know how to swim, brush up on your skills to stay safe.

●     Raise awareness


Share information about the day on social media to raise awareness about drowning prevention. You can also share some swimming safety information. Remember to use the hashtag #WorldDrowningPreventionDay.

●     Contribute to the prevention


You can also donate to organizations that educate children, families, and communities about water safety, like Stop Drowning Now

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Together we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep kids safe.

The Role of Lifeguards in Water Safety: Ensuring a Safe and Enjoyable Aquatic Experience for All

Water activities are among the most popular forms of recreation, especially in warm weather. However, water activities come with risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children one to four and the second leading cause of injury death for children five to fourteen.

Lifeguards monitor and supervise swimming areas — pools, water parks, and beaches — and are responsible for the safety of people enjoying the water by preventing accidents and responding to accidents when they occur. 

Lifeguards are trained professionals who play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of people in and around the water. That’s why people are advised not to swim in bodies of water without lifeguards. Continue reading to learn about the importance of lifeguards in water safety and their roles and responsibilities. 

The Roles and Responsibilities of Lifeguards

Lifeguards are trained and certified to perform their duties effectively. They undergo rigorous training, including swimming and rescue techniques, first aid, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). They must also remain vigilant and focused for extended periods, even in challenging conditions like high waves or extreme heat.

Surveillance

Lifeguards are responsible for closely monitoring swimmers to identify potential hazards and respond quickly if an emergency occurs. 

Prevention

Lifeguards are trained to prevent accidents before they happen. They do this by educating swimmers on the rules and regulations of the pool or beach, identifying potential risks, and taking action to eliminate them.

Response and Rescue

Despite the best preventative measures, accidents and emergencies can still occur. Lifeguards are trained to respond quickly and efficiently to various water-related emergencies, including drowning, spinal injuries, and water-related illnesses. They have the necessary rescue techniques, first aid, and CPR skills to provide immediate care and assistance. 

Maintenance

Lifeguards are responsible for maintaining a safe environment for swimmers. They monitor water quality, ensure safety equipment is in good condition, and keep the area free from danger.

The Impact of Lifeguards on Water Safety

The presence of lifeguards significantly enhances the safety of aquatic environments. For example, lifeguarded beaches have a significantly lower drowning rate than unguarded beaches. In addition, the American Red Cross estimates that certified lifeguards help save thousands of lives each year, making them invaluable assets in maintaining water safety.

Lifeguards contribute to water safety through their direct actions and foster a culture of safety and awareness among swimmers. They serve as educators, sharing vital knowledge and skills with the public to help them make informed decisions and adopt safer practices in and around water.

The Challenges Faced by Lifeguards

Despite their important role, lifeguards face many challenges. One of the biggest is dealing with human behavior. For example, many accidents occur because swimmers ignore safety rules, swim in off-limit areas, or overestimate their swimming abilities. Environmental factors are another challenge. For example, weather conditions or wave currents mean lifeguards must be able to assess these quickly and adjust their surveillance and rescue techniques accordingly.

Constant Supervision Is Necessary, Even in the Presence of Lifeguards 

Fortunately, professional lifeguards help keep people safe in and around water. However, it’s important to remember that lifeguards are responsible for multiple people, and constant supervision is the best drowning prevention

A supervising adult with swimming skills should always provide constant touch for children anytime they’re in or around water — meaning they should always be within arm’s length of the child. If, for some reason, you need to get out of the water, take the child with you, even if lifeguards are present.

Working Together To Prevent Drowning

Enjoying a day at the beach, pool, or lake can be fun and relaxing, but only if everyone’s safe. Using the five layers of protection is an excellent way to ensure that water activities don’t end in tragedy.


Drowning is preventable. Lifeguards and constant adult supervision are the most critical step to preventing drowning. Together, we can end drowning and save lives and heartache! Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep all kids safe.

Ocean Safety

Beach season is right around the corner in many parts of the world, and a day at the beach can be great fun for the whole family. But before you dash into the waves to frolic in the ocean, think about safety first. 

Swimming in the ocean can be exhilarating, but it’s not without risks. Unlike a pool, the conditions in the sea are constantly changing. The combination of powerful ocean waves, currents, and tides can quickly turn a fun day at the beach into a dangerous situation. However, taking proper precautions can help significantly reduce the chances of drowning incidents.

Learn How To Swim and Be Comfortable in the Ocean

Although knowing how to swim doesn’t guarantee complete safety in the ocean, it provides a significant advantage. According to research published by the National Institutes of Health, formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% in children. Adults who are not confident swimmers should also take swimming lessons to improve their skills and safety in the ocean.

Always Swim With a Buddy

Swimming alone in the ocean is not recommended, as it’s easier to become disoriented, fatigued, or injured. Swimming with a buddy allows you to keep an eye on each other while in the water. If one of you is in trouble, your buddy can call for help or assist you.

Check the Weather and Tide Conditions 

Before venturing into the ocean, knowing the water conditions is essential. High winds and heavy rain can create strong currents and rough waves, making swimming dangerous. Tide conditions can also affect the strength of currents, so be aware of the tide times and avoid swimming during low tides when possible. If you’re unsure about the conditions, consult a lifeguard or other knowledgeable source.

Wear a Life Jacket

Wearing a life jacket can save your life, especially if you’re not a strong swimmer or are in rough waters. A US Coast Guard-approved life jacket can help you stay afloat and conserve your energy white waiting for help to arrive. However, life jackets come in different sizes and styles, and it’s crucial to get the right fit.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Rip Currents

Rip currents are powerful, narrow channels of water that flow away from the shore that can easily overwhelm even the strongest swimmers. If you find yourself caught in a rip current, don’t try to swim against it. Instead, swim parallel to the shore until you escape the current, then swim back to shore. If you can’t swim out of the current, try to float or tread water and call for help.

Supervise Children 

Children can easily get in trouble in the ocean, even in shallow areas.  Waves can knock them over or they can get caught in a riptide very quickly, so always supervise children at the beach and  never leave them unattended. It’s also important to teach children to respect the ocean.  

Know What To Do In an Emergency

Knowing what to do in an emergency can make a big difference in preventing drowning. If someone is in trouble, shout for help, alert a lifeguard, and call 911 immediately. If possible, use a buoy, paddleboard, or any floating object to keep the person afloat until help arrives.

Only Swim in Designated Areas With Lifeguards

Don’t swim in areas marked ‘No Swimming.’ While the ocean may look inviting and similar to the sea in other places, dangerous conditions may not be visible to the naked eye. For example, it might be a spot with sharp rocks, menacing water life that pose a threat to swimmers, or known undertow. Also, ensure a lifeguard is always on duty when swimming in the ocean. Going into the ocean without lifeguards present is risky. 

Stay Hydrated

Saltwater can dehydrate your body quickly, which can cause cramps, dizziness, and other symptoms that can be dangerous while swimming. So, make sure to bring plenty of water and drink regularly to stay hydrated.

Don’t Consume Alcohol 

Drinking alcohol before swimming in any body of water is not recommended. It can impair your judgment, balance, and coordination, increasing the risk of drowning. Alcohol also affects your body’s ability to regulate temperature, making you vulnerable to hypothermia or heat exhaustion.

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

A day at the beach can be a wonderful source of fun and relaxation, but you must take precautions to ensure everyone is safe. Together, we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.

Is Your Backyard Pool or Spa Safe?

In many parts of the country, it’s almost time to open your backyard pool or spa for the season. While a backyard pool can be a source of great fun for friends and family, it comes with an enormous sense of responsibility. Regardless of the type of backyard pool or spa you have  — inground, above ground, or a kiddie pool — as a pool owner, you have an obligation to ensure your backyard pool is safe. 

According to the 2022 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report, 389 pool- or hot tub-related drowning deaths involving children under 15 were reported yearly from 2017 to 2019. In addition, on average, kids under 5 represented 80% of youngsters treated in U.S. emergency departments for pool- or hot tub-related nonfatal injuries. When information was available, 73% of those incidents happened at home, and two-thirds of fatal pool or spa drownings occurred at home.

Although your backyard pool or spa has some inherent dangers, there are things you can do to minimize the risk of drowning or water-related tragedy. Continue reading to learn about the various safety hazards associated with backyard pools and tips to ensure your backyard pool or spa is safe.

1. Install Barriers

One of the most effective ways to prevent drowning accidents in your pool or spa is to construct and maintain barriers. An effective barrier should prevent a child from going over, under, or through the barrier to access the pool unsupervised. Several barriers can help limit drownings.

Fencing

Building codes require a fence around pools and spas in many areas to prevent unsupervised access. You can choose from several types of fencing, including wood, metal, or plastic, but all must meet local safety requirements. Consider surrounding the pool with a fence on all four sides rather than using the house as a fourth barrier.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a fence at least four feet tall with self-closing and self-latching gates. The fence should also be designed without handholds or footholds so young children can’t scale or climb over it. Check to make sure all pool gates are self-latching and locked. 

Pool or Spa Covers

Pool and spa covers are designed to keep debris, leaves, and rainwater out of your pool or spa when not in use. They can also help prevent drownings by covering the water and making it difficult for young children or pets to fall in accidentally.

There are several types of pool covers, including solid covers and mesh covers. Power covers that automatically close over the pool are the most secure options. Keep the control device out of the reach of children. Mesh covers are less secure but still provide a barrier and can also help reduce evaporation.

Locks and Gates

Ensure all gates leading to the pool are self-closing, self-latching, and locked. Additionally, place self-closing and self-latching devices and locks high enough so children can’t reach them.

Alarms

Installing alarms is another way to create a barrier to ensure your pool is safe. Place alarms on all doors leading to your pool and an underwater alarm that will alert you whenever anyone enters the pool. Use alarms that sound distinctive from other alarms in your home and remote alarm speakers so you can hear the alarm from inside the house.

2. Invest in Safety Equipment

Having readily available safety equipment is essential for pool and spa safety. Equipment can include life jackets and a shepherd’s hook to help you reach someone who has fallen into the water. Also, make sure a fully-charged phone is nearby so you can call for help.

3. Learn CPR

Knowing CPR can be the difference between life and death. Consider taking a CPR class, and make sure that everyone who may be around your pool or spa knows how to perform CPR.

4. Supervise Children and Non-Swimmers

Supervise all young children and non-swimmers when they are in or around the pool or spa. Adequate supervision for young children means always being within arm’s reach and having eyes on them at all times.

If you have non-swimmers in your household or visiting your pool, insist they always wear life jackets when in or near the water. You should also discourage running and diving in shallow areas.

5. Keep the Deck and Area Around Your Pool or Spa Clean and Dry

A clean and dry deck and surrounding area can help prevent slip-and-fall accidents. Clean up any water splashed out of the pool or spa, and ensure the deck is free of slippery substances, such as soap or algae.

6. Install Safety Drain Covers

Anti-entrapment safety drain covers are rounded drain covers that protect people from the powerful suction of some drains, which can trap children and adults. If your pool or spa has a flat drain cover, it’s unsafe.

7. Empty Kiddie Pools Each Day

If you have a kiddie pool in your yard, it should be drained and put away daily. That will ensure that young children don’t accidentally fall into the pool or climb in without your knowledge.

In addition to the tips mentioned, instituting pool rules is always a good idea. Consider posting them, so they’re accessible to anyone in your pool. Your list of rules should start with the following:

● Don’t go near the pool or water without an adult

● No diving

● No running

● No pushing

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Backyard pools and spas can be a wonderful source of fun and relaxation, but you must take precautions to ensure everyone is safe. Together we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.

Water Safety Mistakes Even Cautious Parents Can Make

You do your best to keep your kids safe, including taking precautions to ensure your kids stay safe around water. For example, you taught them how to swim or installed safety gates at home. But unfortunately, drowning remains a leading cause of unintentional death among children 1 to 14, and 45% of child drowning deaths occur at a swimming pool at a private residence.

Even the most cautious parents can slip up when teaching kids about water safety. Continue reading to learn about a few common mistakes they make when teaching their kids about swimming.

“My child is water-safe” 

No child is ever completely water-safe. Even the most experienced swimmer isn’t totally water-safe!  Anyone can trip on the pool deck, hit their head, and fall in. Accidents can happen. So whenever your child is in or around water, ask yourself the following questions:

What are the possible risks in this situation? 

How can I reduce the risk for my children?

Learning to identify the risks associated with activities in, on, or around water can help keep your children water safe.

“The lifeguard will watch them” 

Drownings at pools are swift and silent and usually occur with adults standing mere feet away from the pool. So put the cell phone away, forget about all the other things you have to do, and give young children 100% of your attention when they are near or around water. 

A designated adult must actively supervise children constantly when they’re in or near water. Active supervision requires a laser focus on children — no texting, answering calls on your cell phone, reading, or searching through your bag for supplies. When supervising young children, they should be within arm’s length from you at all times. 

The most critical measure to prevent children from drowning is adult supervision. That means a parent, a friend, a relative — any trusted adult providing their undivided attention to keep watch over children near or in the water — is the best defense against drowning. Constant supervision is the only way to keep children safe in and around water

“My child knows how to swim”

While knowing how to swim can reduce the risk of drowning among children one to four years of age by 88%, it isn’t foolproof. Remember, anyone — even the most skilled swimmer — can drown. 

Pediatricians recommend that many children older than one year will benefit from swim lessons. However, they are not recommended for children under one because children this young are not developmentally able to learn breathing techniques. Your pediatrician can help determine if your child is developmentally ready for lessons.

Several organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and municipal and neighborhood pools, offer low-cost lessons, financial assistance, and even free swimming lessons.

“I can rely on water wings to keep my kids safe in the water” 

Some parents mistakenly think that water wings keep their children safe and help them learn how to swim. Swimming aids such as water wings or noodles are fun toys for kids, but you should never use them in place of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD). Never use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. These toys are not life-saving devices and do not prevent drowning.

“My pool (or spa) is safe” 

While many parents take precautions to keep backyard pools and spas safe, many fall short of fully safeguarding these bodies of water. There are multiple things to be aware of to ensure your pool and spa are safe.

● Ensure your drain and pump systems are compliant with existing state and federal regulations

● Keep your pool deck free of toys and other objects, so no one trips and falls into the pool

● Install four-sided isolation fencing to prevent someone from entering the pool area

● Lock and cover your hot tub when not in use

● Install a pool alarm

● Install a pool cover

● Keep rescue equipment, and a first aid kit poolside

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Enjoying a day at the beach, by the pool, boating, or playing water sports can be fun and relaxing, but only if everyone’s safe. Together we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.

Drowning Can and Does Happen in the Winter

Every winter, the ice that forms on bodies of water contributes to practical and recreational activities. For example, ice roads in the northern regions of Canada help alleviate isolation. Areas that experience frigid winter weather are also meccas for ice fishing, ice skating, and hockey — popular pastimes that include an element of danger when the ice breaks.

Most people think drowning happens only in summer or in warm places. But the truth is that drowning can occur in any season, making it a year-round threat. The number of winter drownings has grown over the past several years. Researchers attribute the increase to climate change, which affects when it’s safe to be on the ice at a time when many people participate in activities that put them at risk of drowning.

Cold Water Drowning Is Complicated by Hypothermia

Even in places where ice cover has been stable and predictable for generations, no ice-covered body of water is without risk. Falling through the ice is especially dangerous with cold water temperatures that can lead to hypothermia.

Hypothermia happens when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. As your body temperature drops, your heart, brain, and internal organs cannot function. Hypothermia begins to set in when a person’s body temperature drops from an average of 98.6 degrees to about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Low body temperature affects the brain.

To suffer from hypothermia, a person doesn’t have to ber. However, even if only part of their body is submerged, they can experience muscle cramps, pulling them under as their muscles tighten, or even rapid muscle degradation — a phenomenon known as rhabdomyolysis (or “rhabdo”). 

Cold shock is another risk in the winter, and it can happen to anyone entering cold water. A sudden gasp reflex causes shock, leading to a loss of breath, reduced muscle control, and panic, which can incapacitate a person swimming in frigid waters. For example, once cold shock sets in, taking life-saving actions like treading water becomes more difficult.

5 Tips To Survive If You Fall Through the Ice

Understanding what to do if you fall through the ice is the best way to prevent drowning. 

  1. Try Not To Panic

If your head goes under the water, open your eyes and follow the light to bring your head back up above the surface of the water. Take slow, deep breaths once your head is above the water so you don’t hyperventilate, which triggers a stress response that can override your brain’s capacity to make rational decisions. If someone is nearby, call to them so they can help you out or call for help.

  1. Keep Your Clothes On

It may seem counterintuitive to not shed your heavy winter clothing, but it can trap air that provides buoyancy, so don’t remove your clothing if it’s not necessary.

  1. Get Rid of Any Heavy Equipment

It’s important to discard any heavy, cumbersome things you are carrying, like a backpack or skis, so they don’t pull you under. However, if your backpack contains useful items like dry clothes or a lighter and you can safely throw it onto solid ground, try to do that so you can use it later.

  1. Pull Yourself Out 

If you’re able to remain calm, tread water and find the hole where you fell through. There’s a good chance that the surrounding ice you were standing on before you fell will be thicker and more solid, making it possible to use your elbows to pull yourself out of the water and onto the ice. First, pull your torso onto the ice, then swing out your legs one at a time. 

Once you’re out of the water, don’t try to immediately stand because you may fall through again. Instead, remain lying horizontally on the ice, so your weight is spread out over a larger surface, and then roll away from the hole until it’s safe to stand up. 

  1. Get To Safety and Get Warm 

Find shelter as quickly as possible. Ideally, find an indoor space like a building or vehicle; however, a rock or tree that shelters you from the wind will work in a pinch. That’s important because a cold wind chill will increase your risk of hypothermia. 

It’s essential to start warming up quickly, but you must do it carefully. First, immediately remove your wet clothes ,so you don’t continue to freeze, and put on dry clothes if possible. If you can, place something between you and the cold ground like a blanket or backpack.

Resist the temptation to submerge yourself in warm water since it can induce heart arrhythmia. If you have access to a heat source, like a hot water bottle or heating pad, wrap it in something first before applying it directly to your skin. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Don’t let the cold weather deter you from enjoying your favorite activities — just be aware that drowning can and does happen in winter, too. Follow the above steps to ensure that winter activities remain fun and don’t end in tragedy. 

Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.

Keeping Young Children Safe in the Bath

Bathtime can be a fun time for you and your child and presents a wonderful bonding opportunity. But, unfortunately, it can also present a drowning hazard unless you take the proper precautions. Although when most people think of drowning accidents, they think of pools, oceans, or rivers, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that nearly 90 children drown at home each year, with approximately 66% of those drowning incidents occurring in the bathtub. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children one to four and the second leading cause for children one to fourteen. Drowning is also preventable.

January is National Bath Safety Month — and while it’s meant to keep everyone safe in the bath, it’s a good time for a few tips on keeping babies and toddlers safe in the bathtub. If you have young children, it’s a great way to start the new year!

  1. Supervision

Children can drown in as little as two to three inches of water, and it only takes a second for a child to slip under the water and a few moments to lose consciousness. So they should always be supervised in the bath at all times. Eliminate distractions by having everything you need for bathtime — soap, toys, washcloths, and towels — within reach.

Bath time with young children requires active, touch supervision, meaning no talking on the phone or returning text messages. If you must leave to answer the door or take a phone call, wrap your child in a towel and take them with you.

While bath seats and rings can be used as bathing aids, they will not prevent drowning if a child is left unattended. 

  1. Insist Children Sit While Bathing

Bathtubs are slippery. Young children can easily slip and fall if they stand in the tub because they don’t have the coordination or strength to right themselves if they lose their balance. In addition, toddlers are top-heavy, which can make them unsteady in any situation. The addition of a slip-resistant plastic mat that sticks to the bottom of the tub and grab bars to hold when entering and exiting the tub are also good ideas.

  1. Make the Bathroom Inaccessible

Unless an adult accompanies them, young children should be kept out of bathrooms. Teach everyone in the home to keep bathroom doors closed. Consider installing a hook-and-eye latch or doorknob cover outside the bathroom doors. However, ensure the locks on the door can be unlocked from the outside in case your child locks themselves in the bathroom. 

  1. Cover Sharp Edges

Many faucets and drain openings have sharp edges. Bumping into one could cause your child to fall and slip underwater. Consider installing a rubber cover for the faucet and child-proof tub knobs to prevent children from turning on the water without adult supervision.

  1. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Unfortunately, we can’t predict when emergencies will happen. Always have a telephone that can be accessed quickly to call for help. As with other bodies of water, adults who supervise young children in the bathtub should also learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Check with your local American Red Cross chapter, community organizations, and YMCAs for classes and CPR certification.

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Follow the above steps to ensure that bathtime remains fun and special and doesn’t end  in tragedy. Everyone can protect children from drowning, whether at pools, the ocean, rivers, or the bathtub.

Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.

It Takes a Village To Prevent Drowning

“It takes a village to raise a child.” Perhaps you’ve heard that expression before. While the exact origin of the expression is unknown, it’s often attributed to an ancient African or Native American proverb — both very communal societies. But, regardless of its exact origin, it points to the value and necessity of helping one another to ensure a child’s safety.

The most critical action to prevent children from drowning is adult supervision. That means a parent, a friend, a relative — any trusted adult providing their undivided attention to keep watch over children near or in the water — is the best defense against drowning. In other words, in keeping with the spirit of the adage, a village is needed to keep children safe from drowning. 

Children and Adolescents Are Most at Risk for Drowning

Although anyone can drown, children and adolescents are more likely to drown than adults. More than 3,500 people in the United States die from drowning yearly — most children. Drowning kills more children ages one to four than anything except birth defects. And it’s all preventable!

Drowning Hazards for Children Are Everywhere

Drowning risks for young children extend beyond bodies of water like pools, lakes, rivers, and the ocean. Young children can also drown in bathtubs, buckets, and toilets. Even when other safety measures are in place, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a lapse in adult supervision is the main contributing factor when children die from drowning.

Drowning Prevention Actions

There are many actions to prevent drowning. For example, installing barriers, covering wells, fencing swimming pools, etc., help control access to water hazards. Minimizing access to water greatly reduces the risk of drowning. 

Other steps, like swimming and water safety lessons for young children, can also reduce drowning risks. However, unlike swimming lessons, which focus on stroke and breathing techniques, water safety instruction teaches additional life-saving skills — like being able to float, roll from front to back, roll from back to front, enter and exit the water, and develop breath control. Ideally, water safety skills and water safety education should be part of all formal swimming lessons.

The Safer 3 Message — Safer Water, Safer Kids, Safer Response — developed by Stop Drowning Now, breaks water safety down into easy-to-understand components.

Effective policies and legislation are also necessary steps for drowning prevention. For example, setting and enforcing safe boating regulations and ensuring warning signs are posted play an essential part in improving water safety and preventing drowning. 

Adult Supervision Plays a Significant Role in Preventing Drowning

There is no greater preventative measure against drowning than close adult supervision. The designated person cannot be distracted by anything. Adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like reading, using the phone, and consuming alcohol or drugs because drowning happens quickly and quietly.

We like to convince ourselves that we can multitask, but we can’t. Remember, it only takes seconds for disaster, so if you’re on your phone, reading a book, or having a conversation, you can’t effectively watch kids in the water, whether in a pool or a bathtub. The hard-hitting reality is that constant supervision is the only way to keep children safe in and around water

Practice Constant Supervision With Infants, Toddlers, and Non-Swimmers

Anytime infants and toddlers (or non-competent swimmers) are in or around water, a supervising adult with swim skills should provide constant touch supervision — meaning they should be within an arm’s length of the child at all times. If, for some reason, you need to get out of the water, take the child with you, even if lifeguards are present.

The Importance of Bystander CPR

Another way the “village” can protect children from drowning is with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) assistance. Immediate resuscitation at the site, before the arrival of emergency services (EMS) personnel, is the most effective way to improve the outcome of a drowning incident. The American Red CrossⓇ, YMCAs, and other community organizations provide free or low-cost CPR training in communities nationwide.

Working Together To Prevent Drowning

Drowning is preventable. Attentive, constant adult supervision is the most critical step to preventing children from drowning. Gather your “village” to ensure children are protected from drowning risks.Together, we can end drowning and save lives and heartache! Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep all kids safe.

5 Layers of Protection Can Prevent Drowning

Drowning is one of those things most people don’t spend much time contemplating unless it directly affects them. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for children 1-4 years and the second leading cause for children 1-14 years. Drowning is also preventable.

Preventing drowning can be accomplished by adhering to multiple strategies, known as “layers of protection.” It’s similar to layering clothing in cold weather to protect you from the elements. Essentially, it means that adults, including parents, caregivers, residential and commercial pool owners, and operators, must employ tactics to ensure everyone, especially children, is safe and protected in the water. 

The 5 Layers of Protection To Prevent Drowning

  1. Active Supervision

A designated adult must actively supervise children when in or near water. Active supervision requires a laser focus on children — no texting messages, answering calls on your cell phone, reading, or searching through your bag for supplies. When supervising young children, they should be within arm’s length from you at all times. 

Adults also need to be aware of all possible dangers in any environment involving water, including while vacationing, on a beach, on a boat trip, visiting friends, or at a community pool.

It only takes a few seconds for disaster to strike, so even a brief chat with someone means you can’t effectively watch children in or near the water. Constant supervision is the only way to keep children safe in and around water

  1. Swimming and Water Safety Lessons

Although knowing how to swim won’t magically safeguard anyone from drowning, learning how to swim can reduce the risk of drowning among children one to four years of age by 88%.

Pediatricians recommend that many children older than one year will benefit from swim lessons. However, they are not recommended for children under one because children this young are not developmentally able to learn breathing techniques. Your pediatrician can help determine if your child is developmentally ready for lessons.

Several organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and municipal and neighborhood pools, offer low-cost lessons, financial assistance, and even free swimming lessons.

  1. Emergency Preparedness

Would you know what to do if you found an unresponsive child in the water? The skills and knowledge to respond to an emergency are a crucial layer of protection against drowning. 

Adults responsible for protecting children in or near water should always have a telephone they can quickly access to call for help. They should also learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Check with your local American Red Cross chapter, community organizations, and YMCAs for classes and CPR certification.

If you have a pool, it is imperative to have rescue equipment on site, including a reaching and throwing device for quick rescues, and a well-stocked first aid kit. It’s also a good idea to post CPR instructions. Pool owners should also take a local water safety course to learn proper rescue techniques.

  1. Physical Barriers and Alarms

Several physical barriers provide a significant layer of protection to prevent drowning. While barriers are not completely child-proof, they can restrict access to the pool or spa. In addition, barriers make it more challenging for a young child to gain access, giving adults additional time to locate a child before disaster strikes.

Limit pool or spa area entry with fences, latches, and gates. Prevent children from entering the water with pool and spa safety covers (power-operated, semi-automatic, or manual), pool safety nets, or winter safety covers.

Alarms can be attached to pool gates, doors, and windows to alert an adult when a barrier has been breached. 

  1. Life Jackets

Accidents happen, and when they happen, wearing a life jacket can be the difference between a mishap and a catastrophe. Wearing a United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved life vest is an essential layer of protection in and around natural bodies of water or boating. They can also be valuable for children who lack water competency. However, life jackets are only effective when they fit correctly. 

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Enjoying a day at the beach, by the pool, boating, or playing water sports can be fun and relaxing, but only if everyone’s safe. Using the five layers of protection is an excellent way to ensure that water activities don’t end in tragedy.

Together we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence, and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep everyone safe.

The Conversation You Must Have With Your Kids About Drowning Prevention

There’s a long list of conversations parents need to have with their kids. Some topics are difficult, and others are intense. No matter the subject, it’s not always easy to impart information to your kids. You may wonder how much of your conversation they’ve absorbed, if they were paying attention or will even heed your advice.

Drowning prevention may not seem like a top priority in the long list of discussions you need to have with your kids, but it’s critically essential. Every year we read heartbreaking stories about children drowning. But the truth is it always seems like something that happens to someone else. Unfortunately, that’s what the grieving families of children who have drowned thought. Drowning is preventable, but it requires education and vigilance. 

Of course, all parents want their children to have fun at the pool, the ocean, or the lake. Fortunately, having conversations with your children about water safety and taking the right steps can ensure they’re safe in or near the water. Make sure your children know and follow these guidelines:

General Water Safety Rules

● Only swim in designated swimming areas in pools, lakes, and other bodies of water.

● Never swim without adult supervision. Even if your child is a great swimmer, accidents can happen. Kids need to know how dangerous swimming without an adult can be. Always listen to the adult in charge. 

● Always swim with a buddy, never alone. Even competent swimmers can get into trouble in the water, so swimming with a friend is always important. Plus, it’s more fun that way!

● Don’t go in the water if you see someone is having trouble swimming. Instead, try to find something to throw to the person to help them, such as a life preserver.

● Get out of the water when you’re tired.

● Never dive into water if posted rules don’t allow it or if the water is less than 9 feet deep. Even then, it’s best to encourage kids to jump in feet first for optimal water safety. Instead, introduce your kids to cannonballs and pencil jumps.

● You should never swim outdoors during thunderstorms or lightning storms.

Swimming Pool Rules

● No running at the pool. The pool deck can be extremely slippery and dangerous. When kids run, they are prone to slipping and falling. 

● Don’t push people into the pool. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

● Don’t swim or play near drains. It’s easy for swimsuits, hair, body parts, etc., to get pulled into the drain and trap a child underwater.

● Don’t leave the pool area without saying goodbye. Make sure your kids let an adult know they’re leaving, where they’re going, and when they will return. 

Open Water Rules

● Teach your child what to do if they swim too far from the shore: stay calm, tread water, and raise their arm to signal for help.

● Children should wear a Coast Guard-certified life jacket whenever they are in or around natural bodies of water, including lakes and the ocean, even if they know how to swim. 

● Only swim at beaches where lifeguards are on duty.

● Educate your kids about dangerous surf and rip tides that can pull them down.

Boating Safety Rules

● Teach your child to wear a Coast Guard-approved life vest at all times. And have them practice swimming while wearing the life vest before going out on a boat.

● Let kids under 16 know they aren’t allowed to operate personal watercraft. These include any vehicles with a motor, such as jet skis.

● A day at the pool, beach, or lake can be great fun, but only if everyone is safe.

No matter how young or old children are, teach them water safety and pool safety rules. Enroll them in swimming lessons. While knowing how to swim won’t automatically protect your child from drowning, it gives them the confidence to lessen any panic.


Join us in saving lives and ending the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Together, we can end drowning and save lives and suffering! Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep kids safe.

Autism Increases the Risk of Drowning

Anyone can drown, but according to research, the risk of drowning is substantially higher for children with autism — as much as 160 times higher than the general pediatric population! With this startling statistic, it’s crucial to understand the risks and provide the necessary resources for children, teens, and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to be safe around water. Continue reading to learn about the increased risk of drowning in people with ASD.

About Autism Spectrum Disorder 

According to 2018 data (the most recent data available), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that approximately 1 in 44 children in the US is diagnosed with ASD.

ASD is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. It’s known as a “spectrum” disorder because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience. As a result, the abilities of people with ASD vary significantly. 

Why Children With Autism Have a Higher Risk of Drowning

Several factors can contribute to an increased drowning risk for children with ASD. However, since the characteristics of ASD are unique to each individual, the risks vary. Still, people with autism need more support and guidance when swimming or playing near bodies of water.

People with ASD can easily get distracted, wander off and find themselves in a body of water. In addition, they may be unable to communicate when they are in danger or understand what to do in an emergency. Worse, approximately 40% of people with ASD are non-verbal, which means they can’t call for help.

A sensory-based explanation for drowning begins with the fact that people with ASD are sensitive to many stimuli.

Sensory overload:

Sensory overload can occur when the brain receives too much information from the senses. People with ASD often have difficulty determining what they need to pay attention to and what they can ignore.

Sensory sensitivity:

Many people with autism are also sensitive to specific frequencies of sound, light, and touch, making them more likely to experience panic attacks or an inability to cope with stressful situations.

Sensory processing disorder (SPD):

Individuals with ASD have difficulties understanding, organizing, or using information from their senses. It may affect their ability to filter out background noise during conversations or concentrate on one task at a time; it also usually means that they will find certain textures unpleasant. 

Over-responsivity/under-responsivity:

These terms refer not only to a physical response a person with ASD has when exposed to certain stimuli like loud noises or bright lights but also how they process sensory stimuli mentally (for example, by becoming anxious about it). 

There are many types of over-responsivity or under-responsivity, depending on whether talking about physical reactions versus emotional ones like fearfulness or anxiety. Either way, these issues tend not just to influence behavior but also self-esteem because they make many everyday experiences difficult for those affected, even if those challenges aren’t always easy for others around them to understand. 

Keeping People With ASD Safe Around Water

Water safety is extremely critical for individuals with autism. If you are the parent or caregiver of an individual with ASD, consider taking the following steps to keep them safe around water and prevent drowning.

Teach Individuals With ASD the Importance of Water Safety

It is never too early to teach your child with ASD the importance of water safety. Exposing your child to water at a young age will help them become comfortable around it. Use visuals like picture cards or social stories to teach rules related to water and maximize learning. Be on the lookout for a tendency toward or special interest in water. 

Find an Autism-Certified Water Safety Instructor

People with ASD can experience being in the water differently than others, making it easier for them to become overwhelmed and panic. It’s one of the reasons gaining experience with water in a controlled environment is essential. Learning how to swim and be comfortable in the water can provide peace of mind and protection from drowning.

Find a pool where classes are offered specifically for children with autism so your child feels comfortable learning how to swim in a safe environment. 

Emphasize the Dangers of Water

Staying safe around water is about more than just the ability to swim. It’s vital that individuals with autism understand the importance of water safety. While some children and adults with autism are capable swimmers, their attraction to water can still lead them into dangerous situations — like a body of water with a strong current. Make sure the individual understands all of the dangers associated with water.

Take Precautions To Prevent Wandering

If your child is drawn to water, ensure pools are gated and inaccessible. Install window and door alarms on your home to know if your child has left your home unsupervised. Never leave your child unaccompanied or out of sight near the water.

Spread the Word

Let your neighbors know about your child’s tendency to wander and their attraction to water so they can be on high alert. Distributing a flier with information specific to your child can be very helpful. In addition, the Autism Speaks Neighbor Alert Letter is an excellent way to notify your community.

Help Us Keep Everyone Safe From Drowning

Even if you don’t have a loved one with autism, understanding the dangers for someone with autism can save lives. Together we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep kids safe.

Open Water Safety Tips: 5 Differences Between Open Water and Pools

Every year, millions of people flock to beaches, lakes, and rivers to enjoy a fun, relaxing day with friends and family. They can be great locations for outdoor recreation, whether it involves body surfing, boating, or just taking a dip to cool down on a warm day. But, like any body of water, beaches, lakes, and rivers can also be dangerous. 

Research shows that open water areas, such as lakes, rivers, and the ocean, are the most common sites for drowning for those over five in the US. In 2016, open water drownings made up 43 percent of childhood drownings. In addition, males are at a much greater risk of a fatal open water drowning than females, with 84 percent of open water drownings in children from infants to 19 occurring in males.

If you’re considering a trip to open waters, it’s essential to understand that oceans, lakes, rivers, and other open water settings have unique hazards that affect safety tips. Understand the risks so you’re prepared before jumping in or boarding a boat.

Differences Between Open Water and Pools

  1. Limited Visibility 

Unlike pools, with water in beaches, lakes, rivers, and other open water, what’s under the water isn’t always visible. As a result, hazards like rocks, logs, or sudden drop-offs aren’t always detectable. Limited visibility can also make it difficult to see if a child falls in the water.

Always enter unfamiliar water feet first, wade in slowly, and avoid diving headfirst. If lifeguards are present, ask them which areas are the safest. 

  1. Depth, Distance, and Drop-offs

No signs indicate the deep end in open water, so it’s nearly impossible to know if you’ll be in over your head. Also, because open water is larger than a pool, it can challenge to perceive distance from the shore. So always swim in designated swimming areas and check signs for potential dangers. 

  1. Water Temperature

In many cases, open water is usually colder than water in a pool, affecting a person’s swimming ability. In addition, falling into cold water can result in shock, leading to panic and even drowning. 

  1. ​​Waves 

Body surfing and playing in ocean waves can be fun, but they can also be dangerous. So, before jumping into the ocean, ensure you and your children know how to deal with crashing waves.

  1. Currents and Tides 

Currents in rivers, creeks, and streams can be fast and unpredictable. Although it’s possible to see strong currents in things like rapids, strong currents can flow under the water’s surface. In oceans or lakes, waves and rip currents can be dangerous. Avoid swimming at unsupervised beaches or areas not designated for swimming. Ensure children know how to deal with a crashing wave and escape a riptide or strong current.

Boating

Sailboats, powerboats, and canoes are just a few ways to enjoy the open water. Unfortunately, however, drowning deaths caused by boating accidents are also on the rise. 

According to the US Coast Guard, 46 boating deaths involving individuals 19 and younger, nearly 60 % attributed to drowning, occurred in 2019. Almost 80 % of the boating deaths in this age group occurred while riding an open motorboat, canoe, or kayak. An analysis revealed that 70 % of the operators had not had boating safety instruction, and 23 % cited alcohol as a leading factor. 

Nearly 90 percent of boating-related drowning deaths involved individuals not wearing a life jacket. Life jackets — also known as life vests, life preservers, and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) — are crucial for boating safety. Even experienced swimmers should wear a life jacket when boating.

Equally important is wearing the correct life jacket. The lifejacket must be United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved. Look for the USCG stamp inside the lifejacket, alongside sizing and other valuable information.

Unintentional Drowning is Preventable

We can save lives and heartache. Request a free water safety presentation to share with your community, school, business, etc., to educate everyone about drowning prevention. Learn more about drowning and prevention programs and use our Water Safety Checklist to keep children safe and avoid the pain of losing a child due to drowning.

Drowning Rates Impacted by Racial and Ethnic Disparities

Every year, 3,960 people, or about 11 people per day, die due to drowning in the United States. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics listed drowning as the most common cause of death among children one to four years, surpassing congenital disabilities. However, there’s also good news. Unintentional drowning deaths among children declined over the past two decades, but ethnic and racial drowning disparities continue.

Multiple reports released in 2021 show that some racial disparities in drowning deaths have persisted for over 20 years. Specifically, the reports reveal that disparities in drowning death rates are largest among Black, American Indian, and Native Alaskan youth compared to Caucasians, with little or no disparities among Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Caucasians.

One CDC report shows that the drowning death rate among American Indian and Alaska Native people under 30 was twice as high as the drowning death rates for Caucasians, while the rate for Black people was 1.5 times that of Caucasians.

Another report, the American Academy of Pediatrics’( AAP) “Prevention of Drowning,” found that from 2014 to 2018, for babies and children under 19, fatal drowning rates were highest among Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native individuals. In addition, the study reported that while most white children died in residential pools, Black youths were most likely to die in a public pool, often at a motel or hotel.

Contributing Factors in Drowning Rate Disparities

The AAP Prevention of Drowning report listed several possible contributing factors. For example, poor swimming skills in children and their parents, lack of swim training during childhood, and lack of lifeguards at motel and hotel pools, particularly among Black children.

One historian, Jeff Wiltse, a history professor at the University of Montana, believes that US history also helps explain why Black children and their parents are less likely to swim. In his 2010 book “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America,” he cites a lack of access to public swimming pools during and after segregation.

Wiltse goes on to say that due to the limited access to swimming facilities and swim lessons, swimming did not become integral to the recreation and sports culture within African American communities.”

Similarly, American Indian and Alaska Native individuals also had minimal exposure to swimming at an early age. Many reservations and Alaskan villages don’t have swimming pools, and although many Alaskan villages are by the water, people rarely swim due to the cold water.

Again, the AAP Prevention of Drowning report writes that “inadequate funding for pools, swimming programs, and lifeguards, as well as the cost associated with swimming lessons, may affect water competency and community resources for low-income populations.”

Solving the Disparity Gap

There’s no easy fix or single strategy to eliminate the drowning rates disparity, but the country can implement practices to help. But first, more research is needed to understand better the factors contributing to drowning disparities.

One older study demonstrated that culturally appropriate interventions do work. In the 2003 study,  “Reducing Injuries Among Native Americans: Five Cost-Outcome Analysis,” researchers reported that drowning rates dropped by 53 percent after residents who used Alaska’s Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers as the primary mode of transportation were offered light-weight coats that doubled as floatation devices. However, such interventions require funding.

In the Dec. 2020 study “Adolescent Water Safety Behaviors, Skills, Training and Their Association with Risk-Taking Behaviors and Risk and Protective Factors,” published in Children, recommendations include:

● Ensuring that culturally diverse populations are involved in program development and implementation and providing information for parents in languages other than English.

● Recruiting and retaining lifeguards, swimming instructors, program administrators, and educators for water safety programs that reflect the communities that they aim to reach

Other researchers also suggest including water safety training in school curriculums. In addition, implementing and evaluating community-based interventions, including those promoting basic swimming and water safety skills, among disproportionately affected racial/ethnic groups could help reduce drowning disparities.

Several organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and municipal and neighborhood pools, provide low-cost and even free swimming lessons.

Working Together to Keep Everyone Safe

Drowning is preventable. Learning to swim and learning water safety can keep all children safe. While swimming lessons and water safety won’t magically protect children from drowning, they provide a layer of protection, reducing the risk of drowning for children one to four by 88 percent!Together, we can end drowning and save lives and heartache! Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep all kids safe.

5 Risk Factors Leading to Drowning

Anyone can suffer the gut-wrenching heartbreak caused by drowning. Every year, especially in the summer months, news reports are full of stories about devastated loved ones mourning the loss of someone who drowned. But, until they experienced it, they thought drowning was something that only happened to others.

The reality is that anytime you’re near a body of water, there’s a possibility of drowning. However, certain risk factors make it more likely. Therefore, the best way to save victims from drowning is to reduce the risks of it happening in the first place as much as possible. And the best way to do that is to be aware of the five most common risk factors for drowning.

  1. Lack of Supervision

Drowning can happen anywhere water can be found — pools, lakes, rivers, ponds, oceans, bathtubs, hot tubs, etc. While anyone can drown at any age, it’s crucial to never leave a child unattended near water. Parents must always provide adult supervision to avoid the horror of discovering a child at the bottom of a pool or in the bathtub.

Adults who know how to swim should take turns being designated supervisors at any recreational water facility to avoid distractions, even when lifeguards are on duty. And children under four should always be supervised at arm’s length, even if they can swim. Air-filled toys, such as water wings, noodles, or inner tubes, should never be relied on to keep children safe in the water. 

Never swim alone and follow the 10/20 rule: scan the area every 10 seconds and be able to reach the water within 20 seconds.

  1. Absence of Barriers 

A swimming pool can provide hours of fun and much-needed relief in the sweltering heat of the summer. But, unless the correct type of safety barriers are in place, it can also be dangerous, especially for young children. Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death among children 1 to 14, and 45% of child drowning deaths occur at a swimming pool at a private residence.

Responsible pool owners must make their pools safe by installing a tall, four-sided locking fence tall enough to prevent wandering children from entering the pool area. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning by 83% compared to three-sided property-line fencing.

The gate leading to the pool should open out and be self-closing. It should also be self-latching with a latch above a child’s reach, and there should be less than four inches of space between the fence and the ground. 

Ideally, an inground pool should be covered with a rigid safety cover (preferably motorized) whenever it’s not in use. Above-ground pool covers should fit securely over the pool’s surface to ensure that a child can’t get trapped underneath. All ladders and steps should also be removed from an above-ground pool and safely stored.

While installing a fence or a motorized rigid cover may not be cheap, it is worth a child’s life.

  1. Inability To Swim

Although even strong swimmers can drown, people who are weak swimmers or who can’t swim at all are at a much higher risk of drowning. Not having the skills to tread water or keep their heads above water puts them in danger. 

Pediatricians recommend swimming lessons for children older than one. However, parents and caregivers should determine if a child is developmentally ready for swim lessons. Swimming lessons for children under one are not recommended, as they are not developmentally able to learn breathing techniques.

Several organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and municipal and neighborhood pools, provide low-cost and even free swimming lessons. Look for trained swim instructors certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Ideally, programs should also teach water competency — the ability to get out of the water if your child ends up in the water unexpectedly.

  1. Lack of Life Jackets and Rescue Devices

Enjoying a day on open water requires having properly-fitting life jackets for everyone. Anytime someone gets in the water —  on a tube, wakeboard, skis, or boat — they should wear a life jacket. 

In 2020, the Coast Guard counted 5,265 boating accidents that involved 767 deaths and 3,191 injuries. Where the cause of death was known, 75 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86 percent were not wearing a life jacket

The U.S. Coast Guard requires boats to have a USCG-approved life jacket that is accessible, in good serviceable condition, and of an appropriate size for each person on board. Boats 16 feet and longer are also required to have a Type IV throwable device on board.

  1. Impairment or Intoxication

Intoxicated people are at a higher risk of drowning when in or near water than their sober counterparts. According to the CDC, around 70% of water recreation deaths and one in four emergency department visits for near-drownings are associated with alcohol consumption.

Alcohol and many other drugs impair balance, coordination, and judgment, making users more likely to engage in risky behaviors. These factors can combine to make drowning more likely.

Everyone Can Help Prevent Drowning

Together we can end the heartache of losing a loved one due to drowning. Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep kids safe.

Be Aware of These Home Water Safety Hazards

Most news coverage about drowning is about pool drownings or in bodies of open water—oceans, rivers, lakes, and ponds. Statistics bear this out, showing that 87 percent of drowning fatalities for children under five occur in home pools or hot tubs. 

While backyard pools and spas are obvious drowning hazards, multiple other items and areas around the home also present a drowning threat to young children. Ensure you’re aware of these potential home water safety hazards to keep your children safe.

Protecting Children in the Home

There’s a lot of messaging about the importance of providing constant adult supervision when children are at a pool or open body of water. The same messaging applies to water safety in the home. The key is awareness and supervision. 

Young children can drown in as little as one inch of water! Unfortunately, that means several areas and items around your home may not be safe for children—bathtubs, toilets, sinks, empty tubs, buckets, and containers can all create a disastrous situation for small children.

Divided Attention

The home is not only full of possible water dangers, some obvious and some hidden; it’s also packed with things that divert parents’ attention. At home, life consists of household tasks like meal preparation, phone calls, answering the door, and tending to other children. Unfortunately, most toddler drowning deaths occur when parents’ attention is divided.

We often try to convince ourselves that we can multitask, although science clearly says humans cannot. It’s much harder to be in the present when we attempt to multitask. Water safety, at home and everywhere else, requires parents and adults not simply to be present but to keep an active eye on children doing activities near or in water—something we can’t do if we’re attempting to multitask.

Home Water Safety Hazards

The first step to protecting your children from water dangers in the home is to be aware of the possible dangers lurking in your home. Some are obvious; others are not. Children are drawn to water, which can be great fun, but they’re unaware that it can also be deadly.

It doesn’t take much water or time for tragedy to strike. Small children can easily drown when they lean forward to look into a bucket or open the toilet. Because the head is the heaviest part of a small child, it is easy to fall over into a container. Containers filled with liquid often weigh more than a small child, so they won’t necessarily tip over if a child falls in. A curious toddler can fall into a toilet, bucket, or fish tank. Consider taking these precautions:

Keep bathroom doors closed. 

Unless an adult closely watches them, young children should be kept out of bathrooms. Teach everyone in the home to keep bathroom doors closed. Consider installing a hook-and-eye latch or doorknob cover outside the bathroom doors. 

Supervise bath time.

Never leave a child alone in the bathtub or in the care of another child, even for a few seconds. Drain water from the tub immediately after use. Avoid using bath seats or rings, which your baby can easily slip out of and become trapped underwater. An adult must be within arm’s reach, providing touch supervision at all times.

Shut toilet lids. 

At the very least, always shut toilet lids. In addition, consider installing childproof locks on lids.

Store buckets safely. 

Always empty buckets and other containers immediately after use. Don’t leave them outside, where they might accumulate water.

Drain ice chests or coolers.

Ice chests with melted ice can also be a danger. Always drain ice chests immediately, close the lid, and, if possible, store them where young children can’t reach them.

Watch children around irrigation ditches, postholes, and wells.

Watch children closely when they are playing near wells, open postholes, or irrigation or drainage ditches. Fill in empty holes, or have fences installed to protect your children.

Supervise children around fishponds and fountains.

Curious children can fall into fishponds and tumble into fountains quickly and quietly. Practice the same water safety procedures you would use at a pool or open body of water.

Always cover hot tubs, spas, or whirlpools.

Use a rigid, lockable cover on hot tubs, spas, whirlpools, or fences on all four sides as you would for a swimming pool.

Learn CPR and know how to get emergency help.

Learn first aid and CPR. CPR saves millions of lives; if you do not know CPR techniques, you can inquire at the Red Cross, hospitals, and local fire departments that offer CPR training. 

We Can All Prevent Drowning

Unintentional drowning is preventable. Request a free water safety presentation to share with your community, school, business, etc., to help educate everyone about drowning prevention. Learn more about drowning and prevention programs and use our Water Safety Checklist to keep children safe and avoid the pain of losing a child due to drowning. Together we can save lives and heartache.

Toddlers and Teen Boys Top the List of Drowning Victims

Drowning can happen to anyone. But when researchers examined drowning statistics, they found that toddlers and teen boys were the most at risk for accidental drowning. In addition, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes for children 1 to 14.

Despite dramatic images of drowning depicted in movies and television that show a drowning person frantically splashing or screaming, drowning is silent and quick. And it can happen in a bathtub, an inflatable backyard pool, a bucket, or even a pool or beach where lifeguards are on duty. 

Toddlers and Water Safety

Toddlers are curious and drawn to water. It’s fun and enticing, and they’re too young to see that water can also be a danger. The physical build of a toddler is also an issue. With heads larger than their bodies, toddlers can’t lift their heads if they go underwater. Also, they can’t speak or call for help when water covers their nose and mouth. But there are strategies to help keep toddlers from drowning.

Important information is readily available about the drowning dangers for young children, especially toddlers. While swimming pools are where most children under the age of four drown, the world is filled with potential drowning hazards for young children. For instance, toilets, bathtubs, and buckets are where children under one most often drown. However, the biggest drowning threat facing families with toddlers is unexpected, unsupervised access to water. 

Supervision is the key, and parents are constantly told to watch children when they’re near or in the water and prevent unsupervised accidental access to it.

Teen Boys and Water Safety

There’s less attention on another demographic at risk for drowning: teen boys. There may be multiple reasons teen boys are in danger of drowning. First, teen boys are more likely to swim unsupervised with permission. Research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that teenage boys are ten times more likely to experience drowning than females due to greater exposure to aquatic environments, overestimating swimming ability, higher risk-taking behavior, and greater alcohol use.

Another factor is the teenage brain, which is prone to risk-taking without considering the consequences. For example, the underdeveloped teen brain can cause otherwise strong swimmers to not think through their actions and head into an unsafe situation.

How to Keep Your Children Safe (Regardless of Their Age)

Preventing children from drowning requires multiple layers of protection and vigilance. While taking more immediate control with young children may be possible, some precautions apply to all children. The first step is to educate yourself and your children on the best water safety practices to prevent drowning.

Make sure your children learn how to swim and learn water safety. Although swimming lessons and water safety can’t guarantee that a child won’t drown, research has found that water survival skills training and swim lessons can help reduce the drowning risk for children between ages one and four. The study also found that formal lessons were associated with an estimated 88 percent reduction in drowning risk for kids under four years old.

Active Adult Supervision

Even if your child knows how to swim and water safety practices, unpredictable circumstances can happen anytime. Without question, laser-focused adult supervision is critical to drowning prevention. 

With young children, that means always providing close and constant attention within an arm’s reach. It’s easy to get distracted, so if you’re waiting for an important call or email, designate a water watcher who can provide their undivided attention.

Teens should always swim in areas with lifeguard supervision. And remember, although it may seem as though teens are tuning you out if you try to talk to them about being safe in the water, it doesn’t mean they’re not listening.

Swimming Lessons and Water Safety Instruction

The ​​American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming lessons for children one and older. However, each child is different, and it’s important to talk with your pediatrician to determine if your child is developmentally ready for swim lessons. For example, swimming lessons are not recommended for children under one because they’re not developmentally able to learn breathing techniques. 

Several organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and municipal and neighborhood pools, offer low-cost financial assistance and even free swimming lessons.

Emergency Preparedness 

Make sure you have the skills and equipment needed in an emergency. Learn first aid and CPR. If you don’t know CPR techniques, you can inquire at the Red Cross, hospitals, and local fire departments that offer CPR training. It’s also a good idea to always have access to a cell phone, so you can quickly call 911 in an emergency. Finally, learn how to safely rescue others without endangering yourself, using the “reach and throw” method.

Together, we can end drowning and save lives and heartache! Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep kids safe.

Toddlers and Teen Boys Top the List of Drowning Victims

Drowning can happen to anyone. But when researchers examined drowning statistics, they found that toddlers and teen boys were the most at risk for accidental drowning. In addition, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes for children 1 to 14.

Despite dramatic images of drowning depicted in movies and television that show a drowning person frantically splashing or screaming, drowning is silent and quick. And it can happen in a bathtub, an inflatable backyard pool, a bucket, or even a pool or beach where lifeguards are on duty. 

Toddlers and Water Safety

Toddlers are curious and drawn to water. It’s fun and enticing, and they’re too young to see that water can also be a danger. The physical build of a toddler is also an issue. With heads larger than their bodies, toddlers can’t lift their heads if they go underwater. Also, they can’t speak or call for help when water covers their nose and mouth. But there are strategies to help keep toddlers from drowning.

Important information is readily available about the drowning dangers for young children, especially toddlers. While swimming pools are where most children under the age of four drown, the world is filled with potential drowning hazards for young children. For instance, toilets, bathtubs, and buckets are where children under one most often drown. However, the biggest drowning threat facing families with toddlers is unexpected, unsupervised access to water. 

Supervision is the key, and parents are constantly told to watch children when they’re near or in the water and prevent unsupervised accidental access to it.

Teen Boys and Water Safety

There’s less attention on another demographic at risk for drowning: teen boys. There may be multiple reasons teen boys are in danger of drowning. First, teen boys are more likely to swim unsupervised with permission. Research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that teenage boys are ten times more likely to experience drowning than females due to greater exposure to aquatic environments, overestimating swimming ability, higher risk-taking behavior, and greater alcohol use.

Another factor is the teenage brain, which is prone to risk-taking without considering the consequences. For example, the underdeveloped teen brain can cause otherwise strong swimmers to not think through their actions and head into an unsafe situation.

How To Keep Your Children Safe (Regardless of Their Age)

Preventing children from drowning requires multiple layers of protection and vigilance. While taking more immediate control with young children may be possible, some precautions apply to all children. The first step is to educate yourself and your children on the best water safety practices to prevent drowning.

Make sure your children learn how to swim and learn water safety. Although swimming lessons and water safety can’t guarantee that a child won’t drown, research has found that water survival skills training and swim lessons can help reduce the drowning risk for children between ages one and four. The study also found that formal lessons were associated with an estimated 88 percent reduction in drowning risk for kids under four years old.

Active Adult Supervision

Even if your child knows how to swim and water safety practices, unpredictable circumstances can happen anytime. Without question, laser-focused adult supervision is critical to drowning prevention. 

With young children, that means always providing close and constant attention within an arm’s reach. It’s easy to get distracted, so if you’re waiting for an important call or email, designate a water watcher who can provide their undivided attention.

Teens should always swim in areas with lifeguard supervision. And remember, although it may seem as though teens are tuning you out if you try to talk to them about being safe in the water, it doesn’t mean they’re not listening.

Swimming Lessons and Water Safety Instruction

The ​​American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swimming lessons for children one and older. However, each child is different, and it’s important to talk with your pediatrician to determine if your child is developmentally ready for swim lessons. For example, swimming lessons are not recommended for children under one because they’re not developmentally able to learn breathing techniques. 

Several organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, and municipal and neighborhood pools, offer low-cost financial assistance and even free swimming lessons.

Emergency Preparedness 

Make sure you have the skills and equipment needed in an emergency. Learn first aid and CPR. If you don’t know CPR techniques, you can inquire at the Red Cross, hospitals, and local fire departments that offer CPR training. It’s also a good idea to always have access to a cell phone, so you can quickly call 911 in an emergency. Finally, learn how to safely rescue others without endangering yourself, using the “reach and throw” method.


Together, we can end drowning and save lives and heartache! Take our Water Safety Challenge to measure your family’s water safety competence and help us provide water safety outreach to schools and community groups to keep kids safe.

Make Sure Swimming Lessons Include Water Safety Instruction

Raising children is an enormous responsibility. You’re your child’s first and most influential teacher. You take every precaution to keep your child safe, teaching them not to touch the stove and letting them know about stranger danger. Your job involves providing care and protection for your child. 

It’s essential to add swim lessons and water safety instruction to that list. While swimming lessons and water safety can’t drown-proof a child, studies suggest that water survival skills training and swim lessons can help reduce drowning risk for children between ages one and four. For example, the study found that formal lessons were associated with an estimated 88 percent reduction in drowning risk for kids under four.

What Is Water Safety Instruction?

Unlike swimming lessons, which focus on stroke and breathing techniques, water safety teaches skills such as being able to float, roll from front to back, roll from back to front, enter and exit the water, and develop breath control, etc., correctly. Ideally, water safety skills and water safety education should be part of all formal swimming lessons.

The Safer 3 Message—Safer Water, Safer Kids, Safer Response—developed by Stop Drowning Now, breaks water safety into easy-to-understand components.

At What Age Should Swimming and Water Safety Lessons Begin?

Although there are many different answers regarding the appropriate age for swimming and water safety lessons, the American Association of Pediatricians (AAP) recommends waiting until a child has their first birthday to start lessons. The recommendation is based on the knowledge that a baby younger than one has not yet developed the breathing skills required for swimming, which means they cannot swim independently.

However, the AAP recommends classes that engage parent-child duos in water play activities that allow babies the opportunity to get acclimated to being in the water. To find a class for you and your baby, look for programs that employ instructors who are certified American Red Cross lifeguards and qualified in first aid/resuscitation. Remember, the goal should be to feel comfortable and have fun in the water, not the unrealistic expectation of teaching an infant to swim.

Finding a Swimming and Water Safety Class

Look for a program that includes water safety and survival education at the appropriate developmental level. Ideally, a class should teach ‘water competency’ too—the ability to get out of the water if your child unexpectedly ends up in the water.

Ensure the instructor is trained in swim instruction and child development and is currently certified in CPR (some are not). It’s a good idea to observe classes before enrolling your child to monitor lessons for safety skills, the effectiveness of the instructor, and how the children are progressing. Ideally, lessons should be continuous, year-round, not taken for just one season, as skills need to be developed and maintained for life.

A good swimming and water safety program should include:

● Instruction in survival skills before teaching strokes

● Teachers who are trained swim instructors and also certified in CPR and first aid

● Instructors who are in the water with the students at all times

● Limited class size

● A place for parents and guardians to observe

Unintentional drowning is preventable, and together we can save lives and heartache. Request a free water safety presentation to share with your community, school, business, etc., to help educate everyone about drowning prevention. Learn more about drowning and prevention programs and use our Water Safety Checklist to keep children safe and avoid the pain of losing a child due to drowning.

In an Instant: Drowning Is Quick (and Quiet)

In the time it took to read the headline, a young child could drown. Drowning can extinguish a life in mere seconds. Actual times differ depending on the source, but there’s no dispute that it can happen in the blink of an eye. 

Drowning is more common than many people realize. Ten people die from unintentional drowning every day in the US, the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes. Although children are at the highest risk for drowning, anyone can drown. There are nearly 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings yearly in the US, including boating-related drownings.

In addition to being a quick process, drowning is not the dramatic, Hollywood version of a person frantically thrashing about in the water to call attention to their situation. Instead, the drowning process is more subtle in most cases. While a trained lifeguard will more easily notice the signs of drowning, hundreds of children drown every year within the eyesight of a parent because most people don’t recognize the signs of drowning.

The Stages of Drowning

Although drowning happens very quickly, it does take place in stages. The stages can take between 10 and 12 minutes before death occurs, or even more rapidly in the case of a child. People in water distress exhibit something called “Instinctive Drowning Responses.”

Attempting to Call for Help

In rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call for help. A person must be able to breathe to speak. The mouth of a drowning person alternately sinks below and reappears above the surface. While a drowning person’s mouth is above the surface, they exhale quickly.

Attempting to Motion for Help

Drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, so they’re unable to wave for help. Instead, nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. They press down on the water’s surface to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.

Physiologically, drowning people struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.

From beginning to end, during Instinctive Drowning Response, people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of being able to kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the water’s surface from 20 to 60 seconds before their bodies are submerged.

Infants Have a Heightened Risk of Drowning

Babies don’t have much neck and muscle control, so even if a small amount of water covers their nose and mouth, they won’t be able to breathe. And infants can drown in as little as just one or two inches of water. 

Unfortunately, bathtub drownings happen during a lapse in adult supervision in many cases. Even if you are using a supportive infant tub or bath seat, it can tip over, and children can slip out of them and drown in even a few inches of water in the tub.

How Much Time Do You Need to Save a Drowning Person?

Saving a drowning person requires a quick response. For example, to save the life of a drowning person, a lifeguard has about as much time as it takes to cook a soft-boiled egg or roughly three minutes.

Notice we said a lifeguard. That’s because you should never go in the water to save someone unless you are trained in life-saving techniques. And if you do go out, if you are trained, you should always bring a flotation device with you. Otherwise, it’s likely and very common for drowning people to pull you down with them. 

We Can All Prevent Drowning

Unintentional drowning is preventable. Request a free water safety presentation to share with your community, school, business, etc., to help educate everyone about drowning prevention. Learn more about drowning and prevention programs and use our Water Safety Checklist to keep children safe and avoid the pain of losing a child due to drowning. Together we can save lives and heartache.

Life Vests: A Fashion Statement That Can Save Lives

It was a July 4th 31st birthday celebration for an accomplished young woman, a former Vanderbilt track star and attorney. She and several friends and family members, including her sister, a teacher, rented a pontoon boat for her birthday party. Without warning, the boat started to take on water after being hit by a strong wave. It tipped, and the woman celebrating her birthday and her sister fell from the boat and drowned. Neither was wearing a life vest. 

In just a matter of minutes, a special day turned tragic, and now, loved ones are left shocked and grieving.

Sadly, it’s not an isolated incident. The news is full of similar stories. A man in North Carolina jumped off a boat to retrieve a fallen item and never resurfaced. Authorities were not sure if the man was wearing a life jacket. Another drowning victim in North Carolina fell off a boat into a pond while fishing. 

These deaths were preventable if only the victims had worn life vests. In 2020, the Coast Guard counted 5,265 boating accidents that involved 767 deaths and 3,191 injuries. Where the cause of death was known, 75 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

It Can Happen to Anyone

Even if you’re a strong swimmer, not wearing a life vest can mean the difference between life and death. Events can happen quickly and unexpectedly, and boaters might not have time to grab their life jacket before finding themselves in the water. On the other hand, maybe you removed your life jacket because you were too warm, or perhaps you felt it was too cumbersome. So while a life jacket may not be the trendiest fashion statement, it’s a fashion accessory that you shouldn’t forgo.

Several models of light and comfortable inflatable belt-pack or over-the-shoulder life jackets can be worn while fishing or enjoying time on a boat. 

Life Jackets Save Lives!

But, it needs to be the right life jacket. For example, life jackets are made according to a person’s size and weight. There are also men’s and women’s life jackets and specialized life jackets for various sports (wakeboarding, skiing, kayaking, etc.). So, if you’re a 110-pound female wakeboarder, an all-purpose men’s XL life jacket will not be a good fit for you.

Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, and Myths About Life Jackets

If you’re a large person, you need the largest-sized life vest.

Adult life jackets are sized by chest circumference, not by body weight.

The US Coast Guard sets the standards for all USCG-approved life jackets. The minimum flotation for the most common recreational type, Type III is 15.5 pounds.

The Coast Guard has determined that most adults need an additional 7 to 12 pounds of flotation to keep their heads above water. Muscle tissue is less buoyant than fatty tissue. Of course, if you’re an ultra-fit athlete with a low body mass index (BMI), you may not need all that additional flotation. Still, most realistically, most people probably need that extra flotation. 

It’s best to buy a life jacket kids can grow into

This is a common misconception that can be very dangerous. If a life jacket is not a snug fit, a child can slip out of it, or the jacket can ride up, making it difficult for them to keep their head above water.

To check for a proper fit for a child’s life vest, cinch up the adjustment straps, starting from the bottom. Then, lift on the shoulder straps. If the jacket stays in place, it’s a good fit. However, if the jacket rides up and the front comes up to the chin or higher, it’s a dangerous fit. If it still rides up after you’ve tightened the straps and repeated the lifting test, you’ve got the wrong jacket or size.

Youth-size life jackets are designed to fit young people weighing 50 to 90 pounds, and child-size jackets are designed to fit a child weighing 30 to 50 pounds. Getting a life jacket that fits your young person properly is essential.

You can try leg straps if you can’t find a jacket that doesn’t ride up. Some jackets come with leg straps. If the jacket doesn’t come with them, you can usually secure them to the lower side adjustment straps.

As children grow, they need larger clothing. The same is true with life jackets. To keep your child in a good-fitting, safe life jacket as they grow, you will probably have to buy them 2 to 4 different jackets. It’s inexpensive insurance; don’t skimp on their safety.

How To Shop for a Life Jacket

Purchasing a life jacket online is NOT recommended unless you’re already very familiar with the life jacket brand and how it fits. If you want to buy a life jacket online, go to a local store and try on the life jackets beforehand. 

What to look for when choosing a life jacket:

Stamp of Approval

The life jacket must be United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved. Look for the USCG stamp on the inside of the life jacket. It’s usually near the sizing and other valuable information.

Size

Make sure the life jacket is the correct size. The life jacket will ride up around your face if it’s too big. If it’s too small, it will not be able to keep your body afloat. Make sure it has a snug fit but allows you to move freely. Make sure there is no excess room above the arm openings.

Condition

A life vest must be in good and serviceable condition to work properly. So before you put on a life jacket, make sure it isn’t ripped, torn, or waterlogged. 

Style

The vest-type is the best type of life jacket for recreational boating. These jackets are “ready to use.” They can turn a person who falls into the water face-up to breathe without the person taking any actions to float. Vest-type jackets are the best choice for calm inland waters, where fast rescue is likely. Choose an offshore life jacket that is more buoyant for rough or more remote waters.

Wear It!

A great fitting USCG-approved life jacket in excellent condition only works if you wear it! Each person on a boat must have a life jacket and wear it.

Take precautions to ensure your day on the water is fun and safe! The Stop Drowning Now Water Safety Challenge is a program that communities can host that includes hands-on training on fitting and the proper way to use a life jacket as part of its water competency training. 


Drowning is preventable, and wearing life jackets on and near the water is one of the best ways to be safe. Learn more with a free water safety presentation. Together we can save lives!