Natural bodies of water
Swimming conditions can be unpredictable in lakes, rivers and oceans. Water depth can change rapidly, as can water temperature, currents and the weather. Murky water may conceal hazards. Follow these water-safety tips:
- Don't swim alone. Never allow children to swim alone or without adult supervision.
- Wear a life jacket. Children should wear personal flotation devices whenever riding in a boat or fishing. An air-filled swimming aid isn't a substitute for a life jacket.
- Feet first. The first descent into any body of water should be a jump — feet first. Before the jump, check water depth and temperature and look for underwater hazards.
- Stay in designated areas. At public beaches, swim only in areas set aside for swimming. Don't allow children to swim in drainage ditches or other water-filled areas not intended for swimming.
- Beware of thin ice. Drowning can occur in the winter, too. Avoid walking, skating or riding on weak or thawing ice.
Toilets, bathtubs and buckets
The water in common household items can be dangerous for young children. A baby can drown in just 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of water. A curious toddler can fall into a toilet, bucket or fish tank. Taking these precautions can help:
- Keep the bathroom door closed. Install a safety latch or doorknob cover on the outside of the door.
- Supervise bath time. Never leave a child alone in the bathtub or in the care of another child. Drain water from the tub immediately after use.
- Shut toilet lids. Install childproof locks on toilet lids.
- Store buckets safely. Empty buckets and other containers immediately after use. Don't leave them outside, where they may accumulate water.
Of course, even if you're diligent about water safety, accidents are still possible. Prepare for an emergency by learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Quick action can save a life.
Feb. 12, 2011
See more In-depth
- Unintentional drowning: Fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html. Accessed Nov. 5, 2010.
- Swimming pool safety. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/pages/Swimming-Pool-Safety.aspx. Accessed Nov. 5, 2010.
- Home water hazards for young children. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/pages/Home-Water-Hazards-for-Young-Children.aspx. Accessed Nov. 5, 2010.
- American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention. Technical report - Prevention of drowning. Pediatrics. 2010;126:e253.
- How to plan for the unexpected: Preventing child drownings. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/359.pdf. Accessed Nov. 8, 2010.
- Backyard pool: Always supervise children safety commission warns. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5097.html. Accessed Nov. 8, 2010.
- Prevent child in-home drowning deaths. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/PUBS/drown.html. Accessed Nov. 8, 2010.
- Water safety tips. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/210.pdf. Accessed Nov. 8, 2010.
- Spas, hot tubs and whirlpools. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/5112.html. Accessed Nov. 8, 2010.
- Water safety and young children. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Water-Safety-And-Young-Children.aspx. Accessed Nov. 5, 2010.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 10, 2010.