Injury Research and Policy Drowning Prevention Research :: Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

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How to Prevent Pediatric Drowning In and Around the Home

Drowning Prevention

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Every year in the United States, more than 1,000 children die from drowning, and many more suffer life-changing injuries. Parents and caregivers need to be aware of drowning dangers and take steps to prevent it.

Facts about Drowning

  • Anywhere there is water, there is the danger of a child drowning.

  • Drowning can occur very quickly, silently and in just inches of water.

  • It is important to learn CPR. When seconds count, knowing CPR can save a life.

Tips for Inside the House

  • Young children can drown in bathtubs, toilets, sinks, buckets, coolers or any place in the house where water can collect.

  • Most drownings in the home happen in the bathroom. Parents with young kids should always keep the bathroom door shut. Placing a safety cover over the door knob will help prevent kids from opening the door.

  • An adult, not an older sibling, must watch infants and young children in the bathtub at all times. Children can drown in the time it takes to answer the phone.

  • Some parents think that using a baby bath seat will keep their child safe, but baby bath seats do NOT prevent drowning.

  • Parents should remember to always keep the lid of the toilet down. If there are young children in the house, put a toilet lock on the lid.

  • Always remember to drain the bathtub immediately after using it.

Tips for the Pool and Hot Tub

  • More than half of pool drownings could be prevented if parents put up a 4-sided fence around the pool. The fence should be at least 4 feet high and have a gate that closes and latches on its own.

  • An adult must always watch children in the pool closely. This means the adult is not reading or talking on the phone.

  • An adult should be within an arm’s reach away from infants, toddlers and weak swimmers.

  • Most children are ready for swimming lessons when they are 4 or older. Lessons might be helpful for younger children as well, but not all children will be ready at the same age. Parents should decide when their child is ready.

  • Use a hard cover and a lock on hot tubs when not in use.

  • Drain a wading pool immediately after using it.

Tips for Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers

  • Even if a child knows how to swim in a pool, he might not be prepared for open water.

  • When on a boat, children must always wear a life jacket. Air-filled swimming aids like water wings or inner tubes are not a substitute for a life jacket.

  • Teach children to never walk on frozen water. Thin patches could break, allowing a child to fall through the ice.

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