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As summer heats up, experts offer water safety tips for parents

Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4. Here, Stanford pediatricians offer tips and reminders to help keep kids safe.

Many families are beating the heat this summer with trips to pools, oceans and lakes. Sadly, the tragedy of accidental drowning can strike at a moment's notice, especially for young children who are most at risk. We've seen this awful story play out in dozens of news reports in the past several weeks, all of which underscore the importance of water safety guidelines for children.

Drowning is the leading cause of death for kids ages 1-4, and is the second leading cause of death for ages 1-15. It takes only seconds for a child to drown. And it can happen without a sound.

Although most drownings happen in residential swimming pools, children can drown in just an inch of water - such as kiddie pools, bathtubs or even an ice cooler.

Stanford pediatricians offer these tips and reminders to help prevent drowning:

  • Never leave a child unattended around any type of water -- including lakes, swimming pools, or bathtubs, even if they are wearing a swimming aid like water wings. Swimming aids, such as water wings or noodles, are solely toys for kids. They should never be used in place of a life jacket.
  • Drownings can occur when children are simply in the area of water, so don't leave them unattended just because they aren't swimming.
  • Empty all tubs, buckets, and kiddie pools immediately after use. If possible, store them upside down so they don't collect water.
  • While on boats or near bodies of water, always have your children wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Make sure the jacket fits snugly. Have your child make a "touchdown" signal by raising both arms straight up - if the life jacket hits the child's chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.
  • Know what to do in an emergency - learning CPR and basic water rescue skills may help you save a child's life. (Local readers: please visit the Prenatal, Infant and Child classes website for classes available at Stanford Children's Health.) Insist that your child wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device on boats at all times.

This article originally appeared on the Healthier, Happier Lives Blog.

Photo by Pixel2013

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