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ABCs of Water Safety

Did you know that drowning victims have a high fatality rate? Fifteen percent of fatal drowning and non-fatal drowning victims die in the hospital. As many as 20% of survivors suffer from severe, permanent brain damage.

The ABCs of water safety can help you remember the vital steps in preventing water-related injuries or death. These steps include the best practice of ...

A is for Adult Supervision

Did you know that drowning is the number one cause of unintentional injury and death in California for children under the age of 5 years? More California children aged 0-5 will die from water-related injuries than from motor vehicle accidents.

Continuous, active, direct line-of-site supervision by a responsible and designated adult is the best method for prevention of water-related injuries and death among young children.

Children should always have adult supervision.

B is for Barriers

Did you know that drowning continues to be the 2nd leading cause of injury-related death in children aged 1-14 years in the United States, despite a 40% decrease in the childhood drowning death rate since 2001?

Making sure barriers are in place between your home and swimming pool or spa. The extra time gained will help you get to your child before an injury happens. Most drownings occur because of a lapse in adult supervision. Even the best parent finds it challenging to watch a child every minute of every day. Barriers act as ‘layers of protection’ that prevent water-related tragedies from occurring.

The best pool barrier is a 4-sided fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate that opens outward. The barriers must separate the pool from the home. If the home opens directly to the pool, door alarms and locks should be installed.

C is for Classes

Everyone should know how to swim!  CPR and first aid classes for adults, and swimming lessons and water safety classes for kids will make sure everyone knows what to do in an emergency.  Check with your local municipal recreation department or district to find out if they offer Red Cross-certified swimming lessons.  There are also certified swim instructors listed in the yellow pages. 

More Safety Tips

  • Never leave a child alone near water—at the pool, the beach or in the tub—a tragedy can occur in seconds. If you must leave, take your child with you.
  • Always use approved personal floatation devices (life jackets.) The U.S. Coast Guard estimates nearly 9 of 10 drowning victims were not wearing one. Find out how to choose the best life jacket for your activity by visiting the U.S. Coast Guard's web site.
  • Beware of neighborhood pools—be it your own or your neighbors. Remove toys from in and around the pool when not in use. Toys can attract children to the pool.
  • For pools, barriers can offer added protection against drowning. Power or manual covers will completely cover a pool and block access to the water, however, be sure to drain any standing water from the surface of the pool cover as a child can drown in very small amounts of water.
  • Enroll children over age four in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors. But keep in mind that lessons don't make your child "drown-proof."
  • Older children risk drowning when they overestimate their swimming ability or underestimate the water depth.
  • Teach your children these four key swimming rules:
    • Always swim with a buddy.
    • Don't dive into unknown bodies of water. Jump feet first to avoid hitting your head on a shallow bottom.
    • Don't push or jump on others.
    • Be prepared for an emergency.
    • Never consume alcohol when operating a boat.
    • Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts handy. Parents should be trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Facts and statistics were taken from The American Academy of Pediatrics Policy statement on ‘Drowning in Infants, Children and Adolescents,’ The Center for Disease Control Statistics on Unintentional Drownings and the National “Safe Kids” Worldwide program.