NEEDED TO PREVENT TRAGEDIES IN THE WATER
a news release on a policy statement published in the August 2007 issue of Pediatrics,
the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of
For Release: August 4, 2003, 12:01 am (ET)
CHICAGO - Multiple layers of prevention are needed to protect children
and teens from drowning, according to an updated policy statement from
the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), "Prevention
of Drowning in Infants, Children and Adolescents."
More than 1,400
children and teens under age 20 drowned in 1999, and drowning was the
second leading cause of preventable injury death from 1990 to 1999. Many
more are injured, often significantly, in near-drowning incidents.
spells out the specific risks for each age group, as well as important
steps to take to prevent drownings at each age. So for infants and very
young children who are most likely to drown around the home, the AAP
recommends the following:
- For infants and
children through age 4, parents and caregivers should never leave
children alone or in the care of another young child while in
bathtubs, pools, spas, wading pools or other bodies of water.
infants or toddlers are in or around water, a supervising adult
should be within an arm's length providing "touch
- Young children
should not have unsupervised access to bathrooms, as they can drown
in toilets. Also, bath seats or rings are not a substitute for adult
- Gates for
residential pools should be self-latching and self-closing, should
open away from the pool, and should be checked often to ensure they
are in good working order. Residential pools are risky for young
children. Proper four-sided fencing around them could prevent 50
percent of drownings in this age group.
Older children are
more likely to drown in natural bodies of water and swimming pools. In
addition to adequate supervision, recommendations for this age group
- Older children
need to know the dangers of jumping and diving into water. Parents
should know the water's depth and any underwater hazards before
allowing kids to jump or dive in.
- Children should
use approved personal flotation devices when boating, fishing, or
when at risk of falling into the water. Air-filled swimming aids,
such as water wings, are not an adequate substitute.
- The cold season
has special risks - walking, skating, or riding on weak or thawing
ice on any body of water can have tragic consequences.
- Children should
learn to swim when developmentally ready.
- Children need
to be taught never to swim alone, and never to swim without adult
- Parents should
be reminded that swimming lessons will not provide "drown
proofing" for children at any age.
- Knowing how to
swim well in one body of water does not always make a child safe in
recommendation in the updated statement is for parents to be certain
that everyone who will be caring for their child understands the need
for constant supervision. They should know about all water-related
activities in out-of-home care, and check on child-to-staff ratios (some
states require certain ratios for water activities).
The statement also
suggests actions that pediatricians and communities can take to
strengthen laws, regulations and emergency response and reporting
systems. These measures can improve future drowning prevention efforts.
This policy statement is accompanied by a technical report by the same
name that can be found at http://aappolicy.aappublications.org
AAP WEBSITE http://www.aap.org
EDITOR'S NOTE: The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of
57,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and
pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and
well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.
© 2003 -
American Academy of Pediatrics