Drowning a hazard even in small amounts of water

May 27, 2009

'Know Before You Go' campaign teaches water safety

As summertime approaches, kids are eager to be in and around water. But because it takes only three seconds for a child to drown — and because this can happen silently — parents should be vigilant about water safety.

Drowning is the leading cause of accidental unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4 and the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 14. About 300 people drown each year in Texas, and for each child who drowns, four are hospitalized for near drowning. And even a near-drowning can cause brain damage, resulting in long-term disabilities.

As the state's first pediatric hospital with a Level I Trauma Center, Children's takes water safety seriously. To increase water safety awareness, Children's participates in Know Before You Go, a drowning prevention program led by the hospital, the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, the Dallas Area American Red Cross and the Dallas Area Safe Kids Coalition.

The program's slogan, "Ready, Set, Save," incorporates easy steps you can take to prevent a child's drowning. These steps and other important drowning prevention information is available on the Children's Web site — www.childrens.com.


  • Create layers of protection between the water and your children, such as door and window alarms, a non-climbable 5-foot fence surrounding the pool, self-closing fence gates that open outward, with latches out of the child's reach.
  • Learn CPR and proper rescue techniques.
  • Avoid distractions while children are near water, including talking on the phone, reading, preparing food or visiting with friends. 


  • Never leave your child alone near a pool, spa, bathtub or toilet.
  • Assign an adult "Water Watcher" who is committed to supervising the pool area.
  • Have phone access near the water area.
  • Wear personal floatation devices that are Coast Guard approved.


  • Call 9-1-1. If a child is missing, the first place to look is any nearby pools. Upon finding a child in the water, first yell for help and call 9-1-1.  If someone is with you, have that person call 9-1-1.
  • Throw! Don't go. If the child is conscious, use the mounted life-saving ring or shepherd's hook to provide the child with assistance to the side, steps or shallow area of the pool. In the case of a child who is unconscious or at the bottom of the pool, an adult should enter the water feet first and rescue the child onto the nearest level surface.
  • Begin CPR. Determine if the child is breathing by tilting the head back and putting your cheek over their mouth. If you don't hear or feel breathing or see the chest rising, begin CPR immediately. Continue CPR until emergency help arrives. If you are alone and the child is not breathing, start CPR. After one minute, call 9-1-1. Return to the child and continue CPR until help arrives.