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Health Library : Safety and Injury Prevention

 

Water Safety--Identifying High-Risk Situations

It only takes one inch of water to drown a toddler. Knowing where your children are, even older children, at all times, can help prevent them from drowning. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, the majority of children who drown in swimming pools were last seen in the home, were missing from sight for less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning.

In and around the home

More than half of all infant drownings (under age 1) occur in bathtubs. Supportive baby bathtub "rings" do not prevent drownings if the child is unsupervised. Water hazards in and around the home may include the following:

  • Buckets (especially 5-gallon size)
  • Diaper pails
  • Toilets
  • Ice chests with melted ice
  • Hot tubs, spas, and whirlpools
  • Ditches and post holes
  • Wells
  • Ponds and fountains

Small children can drown when they lean forward to look into a bucket or open the toilet. Because the head is the heaviest part of a small child, it is easy for him or her to fall over into a container. Containers filled with liquid often weigh more than the small child and will not tip over when the child falls in.

Swimming pools

More than half of childhood drownings occur in swimming pools, either at the child's home or at a friend's, neighbor's, or relative's house. Pools are especially hazardous if:

  • Children swim unsupervised.
  • The pool is not properly fenced in.
  • There is no telephone with emergency numbers nearby.
  • There is no rescue equipment near the pool.
  • Parents rely on personal flotation devices (PFDs) to keep their child safe.

Boating

When boating, sailing, and canoeing, children of all ages should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs), such as life jackets. In fact, many states require the use of PFDs on all boats at all times. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, most boating-related drownings can be prevented if people wear PFDs.

Drowning in the winter

Children can drown during the winter by falling through thin ice. In addition, pools with winter covers that do not completely cover the pools pose a threat, because children can slip between the cover into the pool.

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