Keeping Children Safe in the Water

Keeping Children Safe in the Water

Know Before You Go Coalition

Our drowning prevention campaign educates families about keeping children safe in and around the water to reduce the danger of drowning.

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4, and the second leading cause of injury-related death for children under 14. For every child who dies from drowning, eight more need emergency care for water-related injuries, resulting in 3,500 hospital visits each year.

To prevent childhood drowning we developed the Know Before You Go campaign in partnership with the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, local city agencies, Safe Kids Greater Dallas and Independent Pool and Spa Service Association (IPSSA). Our coalition believes that parents, caregivers and other adults are responsible for keeping kids safe around pools and water, and we are committed to giving them the tools and training they need. At Children’s Health℠, we know drownings are preventable when we all work together to protect the children in our community. 

Water safety for toddlers and kids 

The Know Before You Go coalition collaborates with school districts and organizations that provide swimming lessons, such as the YMCA, to combat drowning in the following ways:

  • Educate parents and caregivers about keeping kids safe in and around swimming pools and water, including an overview of CPR basics.
  • Teach children to stay safe and keep one another safe around water.
  • Distribute life jackets to families, based on need.
  • Educate doctors about ways to talk about water safety with their patients and families.
  • Create water safety education for children with disabilities and their families.

Avoiding an incident

Having the right supervision, communicating the rules with your child, and helping your child learn to swim are essential to keeping them safe. That’s why the three pillars of Know Before You Go are:

  • Watch and guard
  • Having the right equipment
  • Teach and test

Watch and guard

Active supervision is much more than watching your child around water. About 65% of drownings in 2020 took place when the adult was within eyesight of the child. True supervision requires:

  • Visual and auditory attention. You can see and hear your child. Drowning is usually silent, so just listening is never enough.
  • Proximity. You are close enough to intervene if the situation becomes unsafe for your child. This means never being more than an arm’s length away from smaller children, or children who do not know how to swim.
  • Continuity. Your supervision never stops while your child is in or near the water. Don’t walk away when a child is in or around the water.

Active supervision means making sure your child has the right swimming gear to stay safe in and near the water. Young children and those who don’t swim well should wear a life jacket or floatation device every time. Children may need to be reminded to put their life jacket or floatation gear back on before they go back into the water after taking a break. 

Having the right equipment

Having the right equipment and following the rules of a pool or waterfront area can keep your child safe. To do this, always:

  • Make sure there are barriers between your child and a body of water that stops them from going in without supervision.
  • Have rescue equipment and access to a telephone nearby.
  • Make sure you know the emergency action plan of the pool or waterfront area you are using
  • Remind your child of the rules each time they play in or near the water.

Test and teach

Swimming lessons at your local YMCA or community center are a great way to make sure your child can swim. But no matter how strong their skills get, make sure your child knows to tell you when they are getting into the water. And always be certain you can see and hear your child on a continual basis. For younger children and children who can’t swim as well, always stay within arm’s reach, as well.

Make sure your child knows to tell an adult or call 911 if they witness someone struggling in the water, rather than going in the water to help their friends and peers.