Ohio AAP Offers Water Safety Tips After Spike in Child Drownings

The Columbus area has seen a spike in drownings this summer. On June 5, a three year-old boy was critically hurt after nearly drowning in his backyard pool. Three children, all age 4, drowned the weekend prior.

watersafety(Source: Columbus Dispatch)

Research shows 2/3rd of drowning deaths in children under the age of 15 occur between May and August, with the majority occurring on Saturdays and Sundays. The highest drowning rates of any age group occur in children ages 1-4 years and most happen in residential pools.

Parents should remember these tips to keep their families safe during the swimming season:

  • All caregivers should learn CPR
  • Never leave a toy in or around the pool
  • Dump water out of an inflatable pool after each use
  • Never leave children alone in or near water

“Close, active supervision is essential,” says Dr. Sarah Denny, a pediatric expert at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Medical Director of the Injury Prevention Project at the Ohio Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics. “Parents on their phone or reading a book are not actively supervision their child near the water. Drowning can happen quickly and silently.”

Dr. Denny makes the following additional suggestions for parents:

  • Basic Safety: All children should learn basic water safety skills.
  • Swim Lessons: Studies show that formal swimming lessons in children 1-4 can prevent drowning.
  • Life Jackets: They should be worn on or around boats EVERY time.

Dr. Denny also says pool owners need to make sure they are preventing drownings by making sure they are supervising their pool at all times and know CPR. A four-sided fence with a self-locking gate that isolates the pool from the house has been shown to decrease drowning deaths.

For additional information, parent resources and a water safety pledge, please go to http://www.poolsafely.gov.

You may also read the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on the prevention of drowning here.

The following physicians contributed to this article:

Sarah A. Denny, MD, FAAP

Mike A. Gittleman, MD, FAAP

Jill A. Fitch, MD, FAAP