Drowning is an all-too-frequent cause of death in children and adults. Drowning tragedies can take place virtually anywhere. Children have drowned in ponds, lakes, swimming pools, wading pools, bathtubs, toilets and even buckets of water. It doesn’t matter where water and young children come together, children need constant supervision around water. Many fatalities have resulted when the child was left for “just a second of two.” Remember, children can drown in very shallow water; only a couple of inches is more than enough to drown a child.



In one case in 1990, I responded to a possible drowning. When I arrived, a father was holding his limp, two year-old boy in the backyard by the swimming pool. The child had been left in the backyard with older children, supposedly for only a very short time. The older children left and the parents were sidetracked in the house. The two year-old fell into the swimming pool. I cannot put into words the horror and the pain I saw in the parents’ faces when we arrived. Resuscitation attempts proved to be unsuccessful.



·       Never leave your child unattended in or near the bathtub, pool, wading pool, or any other body of water. Supervise children at all times when they are around water. Children have drowned even when several adults have been close by “supervising” them. In social situations make sure one adult is the designated supervisor; rotate the responsibility.


·       If you have a swimming pool, make sure your children, as well as other children in the neighborhood, will not be able to get near the pool unsupervised.


·       Drain wading pools after use.


·       Phone calls should never take priority over the supervision of a child in water. A cordless phone can make things easier for you when you are bathing the child or are around the pool; you won’t have to take the children with you to answer the phone. Never let a telephone call distract your attention from supervision.


·       Empty all buckets of water around the house and yard. Children have fallen head first into cleaning buckets without tipping the bucket over, and drowned. Surprisingly, this kind of problem is fairly common. Some bucket manufacturers now include a warning about a possible child drowning hazard in their labeling.


·       Infants have drowned in pet food bowls when their faces were submerged in the bowl and the child’s weak neck muscles were not able to lift their face out of the water.


·       Keep toilet lids down. It is a good idea to install a locking system that will keep the lid closed and make opening difficult for a child.


·       Barrels to catch rain water should have child-proof lids. A curious child will want to see what’s inside.


·       Fence off waterholes, ponds, and dugout to keep children out.


·       Septic tanks, wells, and other hazards should be covered to prevent children from falling into them. The covers should be designed so that it is impossible for a child or even several children acting together to open them. A sheet of plywood covering a water-filled hole is insufficient to keep children out.



Copyright 1995 Safety Health Publishing Inc.


Martin Lesperance is a fire fighter/paramedic and is the author of the best selling book “Kids for Keeps: Preventing Injuries to Children”. Martin delivers keynote presentations dealing with injury prevention. His talks are funny, but still have a strong underlying message. Visit his website at www.safete.com