Summer 2014 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals



 In the United States, every day, about 10 people die from drowning. About one in five are children 14 years of age and younger. Five times more children survive near drowning. Children 1-4 years of age have the highest drowning rates. Drowning is second only to motor vehicle passenger and pedestrian accidents as the highest causes of unintentional injury-related death.

Child drowning is related to lack of swimming ability, lack of barriers to prevent unsupervised water access, and lack of close supervision while swimming. Other factors are any location where water is available and failure to wear life jackets.

  • Lack of swimming ability: Children 1-4 years of age who receive formal, nationally approved swimming instruction are less likely to drown. All children should be taught to swim and to do so safely. Remember that even good swimmers need close supervision.
  • Lack of barriers: Child care providers should consider water activities desirable, but plan for safety. All bodies of water should have fences or other barriers that can’t be climbed.
  • Lack of Supervision: Water play for each child should be assigned to a specified adult. Drowning happens quickly and quietly in bathtubs, swimming pools, buckets, even where there are lifeguards.
  • Location: Many children drown in swimming pools. Mobile infants and toddlers can drown in buckets or toilets. Other risky settings for drowning are natural water areas such as small and large streams, lakes and oceans.

CPR performed by bystanders has been shown to save lives and improve outcomes in drowning victims. The more quickly CPR is started, the better the chance of improved outcomes. Make sure that all staff members who supervise children who have access to water can perform CPR.

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