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How can I help prevent my child from drowning?

There is evidence that children age 1 to 4 may be less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming instruction. So depending on your child’s interest, ability to follow instruction, and if you have a pool or are around water often look for swim lessons that are appropriate for your child. Remember that just because your child has had some swim training does not mean she is water safe. I often hear patients say that they taught their toddler to swim so they could relax at the lake or grandma’s house. But you can’t relax when your children are near water.

In addition to swim lessons, all swimming pools should be surrounded by a 4-sided pool fence (this alone cuts drowning risk in half), with a self-closing, self-latching gate. While pool covers and alarms can add additional layers of protection, they are not a substitute for a pool fence.

When children are in or near water, they must be constantly supervised by an adult who knows how to swim, perform a rescue, initiate CPR and call for help. If you are watching a child in or near the water, make sure your eyes and attention are constantly on the child. In the time it takes to turn to answer the phone, a child can quietly and quickly slip underwater.

For young children, use “touch supervision” which means an adult is always within arm’s reach.

Dr. Diana K. Blythe, MD
Pediatrician

There are two most important things you can do to help prevent your child from drowning. First, always make sure you or a responsible adult are watching the children swim. Yes, we all know irresponsible adults. Second, get him swimming lessons.

Many parents think swimming lessons are only to learn the strokes. This cannot be further from the truth. Swimming lessons are first and foremost about water safety and prevention of drowning. Before letting him take the plunge with friends, make sure he proves himself in a controlled swim lesson environment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.