10 Tips to Prevent Accidental Drowning, the Leading Cause of Unintentional Death in Young Children

by the Best Personal Injury Lawyer in Carrollton, Tim O’Hare

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It’s summer in Texas, and that means children, families and adults are spending more time in the water. Swimming, boating and visiting water parks are all popular ways Texans stay cool during the summer months, but for some families, a day spent at the lake or in the pool can quickly turn tragic. 

Drowning is a serious concern for parents of small children, and for good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning ranks among the leading causes of accidental injury death in the United States. Drowning claims more lives of children under four than any other cause of death, except for birth defects. 

Here are some other heartbreaking drowning statistics:

  • About 10 people die every day in the United States from drowning (excluding deaths in boating incidents), according to the National Safety Council.
  • Nearly 90 children under age 15 drowned in a pool or spa between January and May 2019, according to the USA Swimming Foundation. 
  • The USA Swimming Foundation also reports that every year, about 19 children drown during the Fourth of July holiday alone. 
  • Seventy-four percent of drowning incidents for children under 15 between 2015 and 2017 occurred in residential locations, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Boys under 15 are twice as likely to die from drowning than girls, according to CPSC. 
  • The Texas Department of Family & Protective Services reports that 91 children fatally drowned in 2018.
  • So far in 2019, at least 56 children in Texas have lost their lives due to fatal drowning accidents. 

Drowning—whether it happens in a swimming pool, spa, lake or other body of water—happens quickly and often silently. It rarely involves splashing, thrashing of arms, or audible struggling. Although nobody is entirely drown-proof, there are some steps we can all take to ensure children and adults are safe when they are in or around water. 

Here are 10 safety tips to help prevent accidental drowning:

1. Always watch children around water. Anytime you are around water, assign an adult with you as Water Guardian to watch children at all times, even if you are at a pool with a designated lifeguard. Being a Water Guardian means putting down distractions like phones and keeping your eyes on the water. Children should never be in or near water without supervision. Adults should learn how to recognize a swimmer who is in trouble. 

2. Learn to swim. Children and adults of all ages should be taught to swim. Statistics show that participation in formal swimming lessons is associated with an 88 percent reduction in the risk of drowning in children ages one to four. 

3. Wear lifejackets. Children who cannot swim should wear a properly-fitted life jacket or U.S. Coast Guard approved floatation device whenever they are in or around water. Children and adults should always wear life jackets when boating or swimming in natural bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers or oceans, regardless of their ability to swim. 

4. Restrict access to water. Residential pools are the most common sites for accidental drownings in young children, according to the CDC. Pools and spas should have a four-sided barrier or fencing (not using the home as one side of the barrier) that is at least four feet in height with gates that are self-closing and self-latching.

5. Monitor your home for drowning hazards. Even without a swimming pool or spa, there are water dangers present in and around residential areas. Some hazards include bathtubs, kiddie pools, toilets, buckets, washing machines, ice chests, open fish tanks and more. Sadly, many children under the age of one have lost their lives in bathtubs, buckets and even toilets. Never leave a child unattended in the bathtub or around other water bearing containers in the home.

6. Always check water sources first. If a child goes missing, always thoroughly check water sources immediately. Walk around the perimeter, checking the water surface and the bottom as well. Be thorough but quick. 

7. Teach children to stay away from drains. Drains pose a hidden hazard to children and defective or out-of-date drain covers can trap a swimmer’s hair, jewelry, clothing or extremities. 

8. Beware of the dangers of swimming in open water. Open water can present hazards unique to oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds, etc. Dark, murky water and currents can quickly turn dangerous. Always swim near a lifeguard when possible. Never swim alone and always have a buddy when kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, etc. Obey posted rules and warnings. Learn to recognize a rip current and how to safely get out of one. Children and weak swimmers should always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. 

9. Avoid alcohol when swimming or boating. Consuming alcohol while swimming or boating can be dangerous. As blood alcohol concentration rises, risk of drowning increases. If you are an adult responsible for children who are swimming, do not drink while children are in or around the swimming pool. Alcohol is a distraction and diminishes judgment, increasing drowning risk for the children for whom you are responsible.

10. Learn CPR. Timely and effective CPR can save lives. Learn how to administer CPR to children and adults, and refresh your skills yearly. The American Red Cross and the American Heart Association are just two organizations that offer CPR certification courses. 

If you or someone you know has experienced a drowning injury or death in the family due to negligence, contact the personal injury attorneys at  The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare today. 

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