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Water Safety & Drowning Prevention

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Water Safety & Drowning Prevention

“Anyone can drown, no one should.”

Summer is a time for fun and celebrations with family and friends. With children out of school and families taking vacations, it is important to remember that summer can also be a very dangerous time of year. People are out and about enjoying the warm long days of summer and pool and water play is on most kid’s summer bucket lists. Drowning can happen to anyone, occurs in seconds, and is often silent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cite that drowning was a leading cause of death for children in the US from 2020-2022:

  • More children ages 1 - 4 die from drowning than any other cause of death
  • For children ages 5 - 14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes

Though children are at the highest risk for drowning, they are not the only ones at risk. Every year in the US, there are an estimated 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings (approximately 11 per day) and 8,000 nonfatal drownings (approximately 22 per day). Nonfatal drownings can result in serious, long-term health problems. 

What can you do to prevent a drowning situation?

  • Learning basic swimming through formal lessons. Children that have had lessons will still need close constant supervision.
  • Build fences that fully enclose pools that are at least 4 feet in height with self-closing/latching gates.
  • Remove all toys from around the pool that might attract children to the pool when it is not in use.
  • Supervise closely and constantly when children are in or near water including bathtubs. Even children who have had swimming lessons should be supervised. Avoid distractions while watching children. Distractions can include reading, using your phone and consuming alcohol or drugs. Remember that drownings occur quickly and silently.
  • Wear a life jacket to reduce the risk of drowning while boating for people of all ages and swimming abilities.
  • Know the risk of natural waters: lakes, rivers and oceans have hidden hazards such as dangerous currents or waves, rocks and limited visibility. Check the forecast before activities in, on or near water. Local weather conditions can change quickly and cause dangerous flash floods, strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes.
  • Use the buddy system: always swim with a buddy. Choose swimming sites with lifeguards, when possible.
  • Avoid Alcohol: avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming or boating and especially while supervising children.
  • Learn CPR – these skills could save a loved one’s life! Learn hands-only CPR hereOr find an American Heart Association (AHA) or American Red Cross CPR course: or

If you spot someone drowning, call 9-1-1 immediately and call for help from a lifeguard, emergency medical services personnel or other bystanders. If you feel safe to do so, remove the person from the water. Check for breathing and other vital signs, such as a pulse or reaction to the "shake and shout." If there is no response, begin CPR or hands-only CPR and continue until paramedics arrive.