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How to protect children from drowning accidents

Pools and beaches can be a place for fun and making memories during the summer months, but they can also become the scene of a parent’s worst nightmare.

A pair of high-profile drowning deaths have drawn attention to the risks over the past year. In June, country singer Granger Smith and his wife tragically lost their 3-year-old son in a drowning accident. The 19-month-old daughter of professional volleyball player Morgan (Beck) Miller and Olympic skier Bode Miller died in a drowning accident in June of 2018.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4. Many of these deaths happen when little ones find their way to the water unexpectedly. Almost 1,000 fatal drowning accidents involving children occur each year in the U.S.

Follow the tips below to help protect your children from drowning risks this summer.

4 tips to reduce drowning risks for children

  1. Keep your pool secure.

If you have a pool at your home, be sure you’re doing everything in your power to keep kids out of the water without supervision. Remember to store toys away from the pool and use a variety of barriers and warning systems, including:

  • 4-sided fencing around the pool
  • Childproof locks on fence doors
  • Pool alarms
  • Motion-activated video security system connected to your smartphone
  1. Designate a “Water Guardian”

Many parents make the mistake of thinking that if adults are in the area, they’ll notice a child who’s having trouble in the water. Drowning is often silent, and it can happen in seconds. Designate an adult water guardian to be on alert when kids are swimming or anytime you’re in a place with access to water.

All adults should know the signs of active drowning, including:

  • Silence and/or a look of panic or concern
  • Head tilted back, mouth open gasping for air
  • Body in a vertical position with hands and arms pushing downward
  • Children who jump into the water and are slow to return to the surface
  1. Be aware of lesser-known risks.

Pools, hot tubs, and beaches aren’t the only places where children could be in danger. Much smaller amounts of water – toilets, bathtubs, and even buckets – can also create drowning risks. Dump out water from buckets and other containers when you’re done using them and drain bathtubs as soon as the kids are out. Use locks on toilets and don’t leave young children alone in the bathroom.

  1. Teach kids lifesaving skills.

ISR (Infant Swimming Resource) lessons teach babies between ages 6 months and one year to roll onto their back, float, and breathe until help arrives. As soon as a child’s pediatrician gives the go-ahead, swimming lessons with well-trained instructors are one of the best ways to reduce drowning risks.

For more swimming safety resources, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website.