Drowning is still one of the leading causes of death among children under age 5. It is especially high for children ages 1 – 4 and highest among African-American and Hispanic children. Many unintentional deaths occur in shallow water (ex. bathtubs). According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, children under age 5 account for more than 75% of the deaths that occur in pools and spas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that most of these deaths occur in home swimming pools.
Many factors can contribute to these accidents including lack of supervision and poor barriers. Other problems not often pointed out include the effects on children that may have been rescued in time to prevent their death but not in time to prevent other lifelong problems that can stem from brain damage that can range from learning disabilities to inability to function on one’s own. Neither death nor permanent brain damage is something parents want to experience. The guilt alone that arises from the “what if” questions haunt parents of drowning victims every day.
Summer presents an increased risk of pool/spa fatalities. While gates and barriers, life jackets & flotation devices, and vigilance reduce the chance of drowning, a proactive approach would be to teach children how to float, swim, and get themselves to a safe position if they fall into the water. There are various programs that offer lessons for as young as six months old. Your parenting style will probably influence which program you choose to use. Research the options in your area, and ask what can be expected. Remember that the goal is to teach children how to float and/or get themselves to safety if they accidentally fall into water. We are actively trying to prevent drowning.
Baby Swimming Lessons
Infant Swimming Self Rescue