Drowning prevention and pool safety to protect your children

Summer is here, and there’s no better way to cool off than a refreshing dip in the pool, jumping in the lake, or catching some waves at the beach.

While playing in and around water can be fun, it can also be dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drownings are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1-4, and every day three children die from accidental drownings.

Community First Emergency Room | Drowning prevention and pool safety to protect your children

What is drowning?

Drowning is a form of suffocation. If the lungs take in too much water, it can interfere with a person’s breathing. Once the lungs become weighed down, it’s difficult for them to deliver oxygen to the heart. And without an oxygen supply, the body shuts down.

Drowning or near-drownings can cause brain damage, septic shock and cardiac arrest.

Types of drowning 

There are several types of drowning, including:

  • Primary drowning – This is the most common type of drowning and happens when a child cannot keep their head above water. It occurs when a child inhales water into their lungs for an extended time.
  • Dry drowning – Dry drowning happens immediately after someone gets out of the water. When someone breathes water in, even a tiny amount, it can shut off their airways, making it difficult to breathe. 
  • Secondary drowning – Secondary drowning happens when inhaled water makes its way to the lungs and results in what’s known as pulmonary edema or build-up of fluid in the lungs. You may not be aware that someone is experiencing a secondary drowning until hours after they’ve left the water.

Parents and caregivers play a critical role in preventing accidental drownings. Being vigilant around water and putting certain safeguards in place will give you with peace of mind while allowing your child to have fun.

Drowning prevention tips

You can take several measures to ensure that a fun afternoon splashing around in the pool doesn’t take a turn and wind up as a trip to the ER or worse.

Learn CPR – If you don’t know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), enroll in a class and arm yourself with lifesaving knowledge.  This technique is helpful in situations like which someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. The Red Cross makes it convenient to obtain your certification, and you can learn more here.  

Check into swimming lessons  – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children take swimming lessons as soon as they are ready. There are several factors to consider when deciding swim lessons:

  • How interested are they in learning?
  • Are they mature emotionally?
  • What are their overall physical and developmental abilities?

If you or a caregiver doesn’t know how to swim and is left to care for children around water, taking swimming lessons as an entire family serves as another layer of protection. Not sure where to take swimming lessons? Your local YMCA is a great place to start.

Fencing and securing pools – If you have a pool in your backyard, a fence at least 4 feet high is a must. Regardless, if you have an underground pool, an above-ground pool, or some temporary pool, a fence should surround all four sides. In addition to being four feet high, your fence should also:

  • Have no opening under it or between the slats that are larger than 4 inches wide.  
  • Be separated from the house.
  • Have some self-closing and self-latching mechanism that opens away from the pool instead of towards it. The latch should be at least 54 inches from the ground.
  • Ensure your fence is always locked and check it regularly to make sure it hasn’t become unlatched.
  • Don’t leave toys around the pool that may pique your child’s curiosity and tempt them to get in.
  • Always adequately cover and lock hot tubs, spas, and whirlpools after use.

Adult supervision – Even if a young child knows how to swim, he or she should never be alone in the water. There should always be an adult supervising. The AAP recommends what they refer to as “touch supervision,” meaning an adult is always within arm’s length of a child in any body of water, whether that be a pool or even the bathtub. Someone can drown in a matter of seconds, and it only requires a small amount of water to shut down their lungs. This amount of water is dependent upon a person’s age, weight, and respiratory health. 

Wear lifejackets – A boat ride can be an enjoyable experience that can turn tragic without the proper safety gear. If you’re going to be on a lake, river, or any other natural body of water, make sure children are wearing lifejackets correctly that are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Additionally, children who are not confident around water should wear lifejackets when they are at a pool or a waterpark. 

Take inventory around your home – Children, especially toddlers, are curious by nature and enjoy exploring their surroundings. Buckets, pails, coolers filled with melted ice, large water bowls for pets, and even toilets can pose dangers for young kids when it comes to drowning. Parents should take extra precautionary measures and empty water containers after use and install a latch on toilets. 

For additional water safety precautions, the YMCA provides the following videos:  

Floatation Devices

Drowning elimination 

What to do if a child drowns. 

Should the unthinkable happen and your child drowns, it’s essential to keep calm and not panic. Seek emergency help right away. When someone drowns, every second counts. If you or a caregiver knows CPR, begin to administer it ASAP.  

Community First ER is here for you  

When your child needs us, Community First ER will be here. With our 24-hour pediatric service available, we will evaluate your child right away and determine how best to proceed. No appointment is necessary, and walk-ins are accepted. You will experience little to no wait times and will receive personalized, compassionate concierge service each time. Our board-certified physicians and registered nurses are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Our staff has access to CT scans, ultrasound, and X-ray machines, so we can quickly diagnose and treat your child’s condition.  

Should your child need to transfer to a local hospital, we will make arrangements to transfer them via our ambulance or helipad services. 

About Community First ER

Emergency health care, especially in the time of a pandemic, is a critical resource. Our commitment is to provide a personal, transparent, and concierge-driven emergency health care experience to our community members. Locally owned and operated by health care providers and partners we trust; we strive to support and create meaningful relationships with those around us. We exist to put your health and wellness first. For more information, visit our website at https://communityfirster.com/ and engage with us on social media:

Emergency health care, especially in the time of a pandemic, is a critical resource. Our commitment is to provide a personal, transparent, and concierge-driven emergency health care experience to our community members. Locally owned and operated by health care providers and partners we trust, we strive to support and create meaningful relationships with those around us. We exist to put your health and wellness first.

Click here for more information, call 24/7, visit or engage with us on social media

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