Water is mesmerizing, it draws the young and old and is found everywhere; the bathtub, the toilet, sinks, the backyard, buckets, swimming pools, ponds, rivers and lakes.

As alluring as water can be, it has hidden dangers. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1-4 and most commonly occurs in swimming pools.  The majority of infant drowning deaths happen in bathtubs or large buckets. Small children can drown in as little as an inch of water.

It’s easy to protect your children against drowning. The number one tip to keeping your child safe, whether it’s in the bathroom, backyard or at the community pool, is active adult supervision. Never leave your children alone in or around water.  Always stay within arm’s reach of your child and put the cell phone away. When your child is near or playing in water, you must give him 100% of your attention.  Here are additional tips to keep your child safe:

Water safety at home:

  • Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
  • Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks.
  • Remain with your child when he is in the bathroom.
  • When bath time is over, immediately drain the tub.
  • Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and wading pools after use and store upside down out of your child’s reach.
  • Empty inflatable or portable pools after each use and store upside down out of your child’s reach.

Drowning is a quick and silent killer.  In the time it takes to…

  • cross the room for a towel (10 seconds), a child in the bathtub can become submerged.
  • answer the phone (2 minutes), a child can become submerged and lose consciousness.
  • sign for a package at your front door (4 to 6 minutes), a child submerged in the bathtub or pool can sustain permanent brain damage.

Swimming safety tips:

  • Teach your child to never go near or in water without an adult present.
  • Actively watch your child in or around water, even when a life guard is on duty and even if your child is a confident swimmer.
  • Stay within arm’s length of your child until he is a confident swimmer.
  • Every child is different. Enroll your child in swimming lessons when you feel he is ready.
  • Teach children that swimming in a lake or river is not the same as swimming in a pool. It may be difficult to judge the depth of the water or the strength of a current.
  • Swim only in areas designated for swimming.
  • Whether swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake, teach children to swim with a partner using the “buddy system”.
  • “Water wings” and inflatables are toys, not safety devices.
  • Learn CPR, it will give you peace of mind.
  • Watch your child for the dangerous “toos:”
    • Too tired
    • Too cold
    • Too far from safety
    • Too much sun
    • Too much activity

How have you educated your child on water safety?

Lisa Klindt Simpson became the Coordinator of Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin in March, 2003. Safe Kids Southeast Wisconsin is a coalition of dedicated community agencies and volunteers committed to reducing the incidence of accidental injuries for children 17 and younger in a four county area – Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha – through collaboration, education, policy and advocacy initiatives. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is the lead agency of Safe Kid Southeast Wisconsin. Lisa has her BS degree in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse.



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