Prevention of Drowning

Helen Rose, M.D.

The American Academy of  Pediatrics has recently published its most current recommendations on prevention of drowning.

I have summarized the salient points:

  1. Parents should never leave small children alone or in the care of another young child while in bathtubs, pools, spas, or wading pools or near irrigation ditches or other open standing water.
  2. Whenever infants and toddlers (or weak swimmers) are in or around water, a supervising adult with swimming skills should be in the water, within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”  With older children and better swimmers, the eyes and attention of the supervising adult should be constantly focused on the child.  The supervising adult must know how to swim, perform a rescue, initiate CPR, and call for help.
  3. Parents should install an isolation fence around a residential pool that prevents direct access to the pool from the house. 
  4. Parents should consider supplemental pool alarms and rigid pool covers as additional layers of protection.
  5. Entrapment and entanglement injuries should be prevented by the use of special drain covers, SVRSs, filter pumps with multiple drains, and a variety of other pressure-venting filter-construction techniques on all pools.
  6. Children need to learn to swim.  However, children should never swim alone and should never swim without adult supervision and should be taught this by parents.
  7. Parents, caregivers, and pool owners should learn CPR and keep a telephone and equipment approved by the US Coast Guard at poolside.
  8. Parents should not use air-filled swimming aids in place pf life jackets.
  9. All children should be required to wear an approved PFD (life jackets) whenever they are riding in watercraft.  Small children and nonswimmers should use life jackets when they are at water’s edge.  All family members should wear life jackets to model good behavior.
  10. Jumping and diving into water can result in injury.  The first entry into any body of water should be feetfirst.  Diving should only occur in a very deep body of water.
  11. Only select sites to swim which have lifeguards.  Be wary of weather, tides, waves, and water currents.
  12. Children should not walk, skate or ride on weak or thawing ice on any body of water.
  13. When swimming or taking a bath, children of any age with seizure disorders should be supervised closely by an adult at all times.  Older children with seizure disorders should take showers.
  14. There is an increased drowning rate that results from impairment of a swimmer or watercraft occupant when alcohol or illicit drugs are used.  Parents should advise their children regarding this risk.


To read the full AAP document, please go to the following link: