Children and Water Safety
Young children, even those who know how to swim, face many dangers around water, so it is essential to follow proper precautions to keep them safe. The most frequent location of drowning accidents for children under the age of five years is in a swimming pool, so pools should be fenced and pool gates locked when adults are not present. Two inches of water (6 cm) is enough for a child to drown, so parents should always supervise their kids, keeping them within arm’s reach.1 Learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is also important for parents. Make sure you and your children read and follow restrictions posted by lifeguards or pool owners.
General Water Safety
Before leaping into any body of water, first verify the depth of the water and make sure that the water is clean. Examine the body of water for any dangers, such as rocks, weeds, logs, or holes. You should always go into the water feet first to minimize the danger of neck injury. Never dive in shallow water.
Ocean Swimming Safety
Roughly one-third of all drowning fatalities occur in the ocean. To help keep yourself and others safe at the beach, follow these suggestions:
• Stay within sight of lifeguards if you go swimming or surfing.
• Be mindful of rip current warnings. If caught in a rip current, do not fight it. Relax, wave and yell, and either float with the current or swim parallel to the shoreline. The key is not to panic.
• Remain between the red and yellow flags, as they indicate a safe swimming location.
• Don’t swim alone.
• Never use alcohol or drugs while swimming.
• Know your strengths and weaknesses and leave the water if you are feeling tired or unwell.
• Don’t swim in the dark.
• Don’t sprint or dive into the water, as the water’s quality may vary.
• Don’t panic in the water. If you need help, raise your arm to attract attention, then float in place while waiting for aid.2
Children can start swimming lessons as young as a year old. Swimming lessons can teach childrebn water survival skills like floating. Swimming classes may decrease the incidence of childhood drowning among 1- to 4-year-olds. The most popular online searches for swimming classes can be found here:
1. Red Cross website. Drowning prevention and facts. https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety/drowning-prevention-and-facts.html. Accessed 13 July 2021.
2. MyDR website. Water safety. https://www.mydr.com.au/travel-health/water-safety/. Accessed 13 July 2021.