Pools, lakes, ponds, and beaches mean summer fun and cool relief from
hot weather. But water also can be dangerous for kids if you don't take
the proper precautions. Nearly 1,000 kids die each year by drowning.
And most drownings occur in home swimming pools. It is the second
leading cause of accidental death for people between the ages of 5 and
The good news is there are many ways to keep your kids safe in the
water and make sure that they take the right precautions when they're on
Keeping Kids Safe
Kids need constant supervision around water - whether the water is in
a bathtub, a wading pool, an ornamental fish pond, a swimming pool, a
spa, the beach, or a lake.
Young children are especially vulnerable - they can drown in less
than 2 inches (6 centimeters) of water. That means drowning can happen
where you'd least expect it - the sink, the toilet bowl, fountains,
buckets, inflatable pools, or small bodies of standing water around your
home, such as ditches filled with rainwater. Always watch children
closely when they're in or near any water.
If you don't already, it's a good idea to learn how to swim, and kids
older than 4 years should learn, too (check the local recreation center
for classes taught by qualified instructors). Kids who are younger (but
older than age 1) also might benefit from swimming lessons, but check
with your doctor first.
Don't assume that a child who knows how to swim isn't at risk for
drowning. All kids need to be supervised in the water, no matter what
their swimming skill levels. And infants, toddlers, and weak swimmers
should have an adult swimmer within arm's reach to provide "touch
Invest in proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved flotation devices
(life vests) and use them whenever a child is near water. Check the
weight and size recommendations on the label, then have your child try
it on to make sure it fits snugly. For kids younger than 5 years old,
choose a vest with a strap between the legs and head support - the
collar will keep the child's head up and face out of the water.
Inflatable vests and arm devices such as water wings are not effective
protection against drowning.
Don't forget the sunscreen and reapply frequently, especially if the
kids are getting wet. UV sunglasses, hats, and protective clothing can
also help provide sun protection.
Kids should drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, to prevent
dehydration. It's easy to get dehydrated in the sun, especially when
kids are active and sweating. Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, or nausea
are just some of the signs of dehydration and overheating.
The temperature of the water is important, too. Enter the water
slowly and make sure it feels comfortable for you and your child. A
temperature below 70°F (20°C) is cold to most swimmers. Recommended
water temperatures vary depending on the activity, swimmer's age, and
whether or not they are pregnant. In general, 82°-86°F (28°-30°C) is
comfortable for recreational swimming for children (babies are more
comfortable when the water is on the warmer side of this temperature
Body temperature drops more quickly in water than on land, and it
does not take long for hypothermia to set in. If a child is shivering or
experiencing muscle cramps, get him or her out of the water
Read much more on water safety here.