By TMoM Team Member Suzy Fielders

Summer is almost here, and for most families, that means a lot of time in the sun and water. Whether at a pool or at the lake, water play is a great way to cool off. However, any time in the water with kids means parents must be extra vigilant in watching children in and around water.

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist is here to help you navigate water safety for your children and family. Dr. Benjamin Warner, MD, provides some great tips on this important topic to help you prepare for safe water fun this summer.

Startling Drowning Statistics

Drowning is the leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1 to 4. It’s the second leading cause of death in children ages 5 to 14.

According to the CDC:

  • In the United States, there are 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings a year, which averages out to 11 drowning deaths per day.
  • There are 8,000 nonfatal drownings in the U.S. per year, which is an average of 22 nonfatal drownings per day.
  • Almost 40% of drownings that are treated in emergency departments end up requiring hospitalization or transfer for additional care and observation.

While these statistics are alarming, most drownings are completely preventable. If you and your family implement proper water safety measures and stay alert, then the likelihood of drowning significantly decreases.

Water Safety Tips

First and foremost, Dr. Warner shares “There is no substitute for having your eyes on a child when they are in the water. Constant watching is the best way to avoid drowning incidents.”

He also elaborates, “It is important to remember that younger kids, particularly 4 and under, often have no fear, nor do they really know what it means to go underwater. Therefore, you can’t trust them to make any good or safe decisions around water.”

You can use their early years to slowly teach them what it means to be in the water, by being there with them in the pool, lake, ocean, or other water play areas. You can also begin to discuss the dangers of water with them in an age-appropriate conversation. It’s critical to teach them, even at a young age, how to swim and float.

Keeping up with little ones, especially at the pool, can be tiring for parents. Therefore, Dr. Warner recommends always having one person be the ‘watcher,’ and rotating adults on this role.

Remember, even a splash/wade pool set up in the backyard has the potential for a drowning incident for young children. It only takes a couple of inches of water to cause a drowning!

Click here for more water safety tips.

Signs to Look For if Someone is Drowning

Drowning often isn’t like in movies where the person is flailing around and screaming. In fact, according to Dr. Warner, most drownings are silent, with little to no splashing, waving, or screaming. This is yet another important reason parents must stay aware and watch children in the water at all times.

Obvious signs to look for include:

  • Someone not moving or fighting – this is the most serious sign
  • Any sign of panic
  • Making alarming noise initially
  • Behavior change

A person typically only has a few seconds of panic before they go underwater!

Flotation Devices

Remember that while flotation devices are helpful, again, there is no substitute for watching and being in the water with a child.

Dr. Warner reminds parents that noodles and water wings are meant for play and are not life-saving flotation devices. He recommends flotation devices approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

What to Do Should a Drowning or Near Drowning Occurs

First, it’s imperative to get the child out of water. Call 911 and get help fast. If the child is unresponsive, begin CPR.

If it was a near drowning and the child is conscious, then take them to your closest urgent care facility for an evaluation to ensure there is no short or long term damage.

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist is Here for You This Summer!

Dr. Warner works at Atrium Health Children’s Care One Health Pediatrics in King, NC, and Atrium Health Primary Care One Health Family Medicine & Urgent Care in Mocksville, NC.

If you have any questions about water safety, ask your pediatrician. You can schedule an appointment online with Dr. Warner, or find a pediatrician here.

*Sponsored by Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist