Prevent Child Drowning

During summer more people are at the pools, beaches, and lakes. Water activities are fun but they can also be dangerous. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 years in the United States. Understanding how these accidents happen is the first step to preventing them.

Prevent Child Drowning

How Water Accidents Happen

There are a number of ways that children can get into trouble in the water. One major cause of toddler drowning is when children gain entry to a pool without the caregiver’s knowledge. Children can drown even when a caregiver is nearby. The best remedy for this is to have a safety fence around the pool. The fence should also have a self-closing, self-locking gate. The supervising adult should also keep the child within an arm’s reach anytime they are around water.

You Need More Than Swimming Lessons

Common-sense guidelines can help prevent drowning among all age groups. While toddlers are at the highest risk of drowning, statistics show drowning occurs in all age groups. This means that swimming lessons alone are not sufficient. Drowning-related accidents among adults are often tied to the use of alcohol or drugs. These factors can also hinder an adult from effectively supervising a child in the pool. The adult needs to be focused and alert, not multitasking or under the influence.

Drowning Prevention Tips

  • A swimming pool should be completely separate from the house and play area of the yard.
  • Alarms and pool covers should not be used as a substitute for a fence.
  • Never leave your child alone or in the care of another child in or around water.
  • Learn CPR and first aid and keep a first aid kit nearby
  • Have rescue equipment, such as a life preserver.
  • Wear Coast Guard-approved life jackets when swimming in the ocean.
  • Bring a phone to the pool, lake or beach in case of an emergency.
  • Provide swimming lessons when your child is ready to learn.

First Aid Steps for a Drowning Victim

Should you notice a child drowning, there are a few important steps to follow to save their life.

  1. Get out of the water: Your first priority is to get a drowning child out of the water as quickly as possible. If they are not breathing, place them on their back on a firm surface. Immediately begin rescue breathing, and have someone call for help.
  2. Open the child’s airway: Gently tilt back the head with one hand, and lift the chin with the other. Put your ear to the child’s mouth and nose, and look, listen, and feel for signs that she is breathing.
  3. If the child doesn’t seem to be breathing: For infants under the age of 1, place your mouth over the infant’s nose and lips and give two breaths, each lasting about 1 second. Look for the chest to rise and fall. For children, 1 year and older, pinch the child’s nose and seal your lips over her mouth. Give two slow, full breaths (1 to 2 seconds each). Wait for the chest to rise and fall before giving the second breath.
  4. If the chest rises after breaths: Check for a pulse. If the chest doesn’t rise, try again. Retilt the head, lift the child’s chin and repeat the breaths.
  5. Check for a pulse: Put two fingers on your child’s neck to the side of Adam’s apple. For infants, feel inside the arm between the elbow and shoulder. Wait five seconds. If there is a pulse, give one breath every three seconds. Check for a pulse every minute, and continue rescue breathing until the child is breathing on her own or help arrives.
  6. If you can’t find a pulse: For infants under the age of 1, imagine a line between the child’s nipples, and place two fingers just below its centerpoint. Apply five half-inch chest compressions in about three seconds. After five compressions, seal your lips over the child’s mouth and nose and give one breath.

For children 1 and older, use the heel of your hand to apply five quick one-inch chest compressions to the middle of the breastbone (just above where the ribs come together) in about three seconds. After five compressions, pinch the child’s nose, seal your lips over his mouth, and give one full breath.


Continue the cycle of five chest compressions followed by breath for one minute, then check for a pulse. Repeat the cycle until you find a pulse or help arrives and takes over. While these instructions are provided to help guide you, it is important to note that they are not a substitute for pepper CPR training. If you own a pool or visit the beach with your child, you need to know CPR. Most importantly, never assume it’s too late to save a child’s life. Even if they are unresponsive, continue performing CPR, and do not stop until medical professionals take over. Your efforts can save a life and your awareness and training can prevent accidents from happening in the first place.


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