photo of African American father and son in swimming pool

Drowning is a leading cause of death among young children. To help prevent water-related injury and drowning:

  • Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and children swimming or playing in or around water at all times.
    • Whenever infants and toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within an arm's length at all times providing "touch supervision."
    • Adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity while supervising children.
    • Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.

When Swimming at a Public Pool or Beach

  • Swim only in designated swimming areas.
  • Always swim with a buddy.
  • Select swimming sites that have lifeguards, whenever possible.
  • When a child is missing, check the water first.
  • Do not use air-filled or foam toys, such as "water wings," "noodles," or inner-tubes, in place of life jackets (personal flotation devices). These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

If you Have a Swimming Pool at Home

Many young children under 5 who drown are not in their swimsuits and not supposed to be in the water. Children have a natural curiosity and attraction to water. Preventing access to swimming pools for small children is essential.

  • Install a four-sided pool fence that completely separates the house and play area of the yard from the pool area. The fence should be at least four feet high. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of reach of children.
  • After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can't get back into it.
  • Consider additional barriers such as automatic door locks or alarms to prevent access or notify you if someone enters the pool area.
  • Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd's hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.
  • Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool after use so that children are not tempted to reach for them.

What Else Can you Do?

  • Learn to swim. Formal swimming lessons can help prevent drowning. But, remember, constant, careful supervision and barriers such as pool fencing are necessary even when children have completed swimming classes.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The Red Cross offers a wide selection of CPR/AED, first aid, lifeguarding, swimming, and water safety training. For information on classes, visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class.

This information is provided by the Department of Public Health.