Preventing Childhood Drownings at Lakes and Pools

Every year children drown while swimming or playing near water. But there’s a lot we can do to prevent this tragedy.

From splashing in a wading pool to diving off a dock, water play is one of summer’s greatest activities. But when it comes to children, water can also spell tragedy. Which is why you must never, ever leave your children unattended by water, even if it’s just a small wading pool. In addition to parental supervision, former Marine Safety Officer, Angus Armstrong, recommends that “if you have your child around the dock of a cottage, or playing around where boats are, or anywhere near water, have them wear a PFD (Personal Flotation Device). The younger you start them with this, the more they’ll accept it. So start them right off when they’re toddlers and keep going at least until they can swim very well.”

Search and Rescue Training Coordinator, Linda Hillard agrees that life jackets and PFD’s are vital, but not just for children, for parents too, especially when in boats or near swift-moving water. “Life jackets are definitely something that need to be worn anytime near the water and not just for children but parents too”, explains Hillard. “Parents need to set an example and they need to wear a life jacket. Don’t just make the children do it. Show them why.”

Water safety experts agree that getting children in swimming lessons early is also important when it comes to water safety. But even with fairly accomplished swimmers, parents shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security. As Hillard says, “there is no such thing as safe water. I don’t look at even a calm day in a shallow lake as safe. There are always drop-offs and it’s very easy to slip, get into an undertow, and lose your balance. There are lots of rocks, logs and debris poking out from under the water that can be extremely hazardous.”

Finally, Armstrong says you should “always assume if someone’s missing around a pool or lake, that they’re in the water. A lot of parents panic and start searching their house when they realize that their child is missing. Instead they should rush right out and first check the pool.”

If you find a child drowned, immediately begin CPR because even a child who has been submerged for many minutes has a chance of full recovery, especially in cooler water.


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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