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Danger Below the Surface: Identifying Where Children Drown

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"Kids and water really spell potential danger. Just because a child may have learned to swim does not mean they are drown-proof. That is still a misconception among parents," Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, tells WebMD. Smith is the director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Children's Hospital at Columbus, Ohio, and a member of the AAP's Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention.

"Really through the teenage years you need to have supervision of children around water," says Smith, adding that there is no magic age when a child automatically should be allowed to be on his or her own. "It depends on maturity, strength, ability to think through a challenge, and coordination."

"Each of these drownings is a tragedy, and for the most part they are largely preventable," says Brenner. "With some precautions and some increased awareness of the risks that any body of water presents, we can go a long way towards preventing these tragedies."

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