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Categories: Pediatrics, Uncategorized

Water safety for kids

Water safety is something I am incredibly passionate about as a pediatric nurse practitioner and mother to young children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for infants and young children between the ages of one and four.
Drowning is 100% preventable. To lower a child’s risk of drowning and other water-related injuries, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using “layers of protection.” The biggest drowning threat facing families with toddlers is unexpected, unsupervised access to water: swimming pools, hot tubs and spas, bathtubs, natural bodies of water like lakes and ponds, and standing water in homes. For example, 69% of all drownings among children age four and younger happen during non-swim times.
Below are some steps you can take to create layers of protection:
Fence and secure swimming pools. Have a self-closing latch that opens away from the pool. Keep the gate locked at ALL times. Keep toys away from the pool area when not in use so that children are not tempted to try to get through the fence during non-swim time. Cover hot tubs and whirlpools when not in use.
Prevent children from going outside unnoticed. Use safety gates, door locks, and door alarms to prevent toddlers and children from going outside unnoticed. Make sure siblings and other family members know to close the door behind them so young children don’t follow them out.
Provide constant supervision in and around water. Give the children your UNDIVIDED attention. It’s important someone is watching the child swim without distractions like a cell phone, doing yard work, drinking alcohol, or reading a book. AAP recommends “touch supervision,” whether it’s bath time or swim time, defined as being within arm’s reach. During swim time, get in with your child, even if lifeguards are present. Lifeguards can provide a false sense of security, and parental supervision should still be given to children at all times while in water. Puddle jumpers and flotation devices do not exempt parent supervision. If a flotation device is used, I recommend a US Coast Guard-approved device. For an online list of these approved devices, visit
Assign a water watcher. A water watcher is a responsible adult who agrees to watch the kids in the water without distractions and wears a water watcher card. This is especially important if you are at a party or a picnic at a public pool or lake where it’s easy to get distracted. Take turns passing along the water watcher card after a set time (such as 15 minutes). For more information on water watchers, visit
Start swim lessons! It is a good idea to start swimming lessons as soon as possible.
Parent-child swim lessons are great to allow your child to gain exposure to the water.
Get CPR certified. If an emergency happens, it is essential that parents and families are prepared. Learn to perform CPR on children and adults. The American Red Cross offers
in-person and online CPR certification options, and there are usually in-person offerings at wellness organizations like the YMCA.
Summer can be a hectic time – make sure water safety is part of your plans to ensure your children stay safe and healthy!
Here are a couple of options available for swim lessons in the area:
Florence YMCA: Ages 6 months and up
McLeod Health & Fitness Center: Ages 6 months and up + swim club

Julia Derrick

Julia Derrick

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