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Most Child Drowning Victims Ignored

Parents Often Lax About Swimming Supervision

Researchers also conducted a separate nationwide survey of parents of children 14 and younger about their water-safety knowledge, attitudes, and behavior.

They found that although 94% said they always supervise their children while swimming, many do not devote their full attention to the task. More than one-third report talking to others while supervising their children. Reading, eating, and talking on the phone were also commonly reported.

Most parents (55%) also said they thought there were circumstances where it is OK for a child to swim without adult supervision, such as if they swim with a buddy (31%), if the child is an excellent swimmer (29%), or if they have had several years of swimming lessons (23%).

But experts say drowning is a silent killer that can strike even older, more experienced child swimmers.

Other findings of the report include:

  • Nearly two-thirds (61%) of pool- or spa-owning parents do not have isolation fencing around their pools or spas, and 43% have no self-closing and self-latching gate. 
  • Many preteens (kids aged 8 to 12) admit they never wear a life jacket when riding on a personal watercraft (50%), participating in water sports (37%), or on a boat (16%).
  • One in five parents (19%) mistakenly believes that air-filled water wings can protect their child from drowning. 

Water Safety Checklist

Researchers recommend that adults take turns serving as the "water watcher," whose sole responsibility is to constantly keep an eye on children in or near the water.

In addition, the National SAFE KIDS Campaigns recommends the following water safety steps for adults to follow to reduce the risk of child drowning:

  • Never leave children alone near water.
  • Tell children never to run, push, or jump on others around water.
  • Learn infant and child CPR.
  • Children should always wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Inflatable inner tubs and "water wings" are not safety devices.
  • Keep toilet lids down.
  • Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
  • Children in baby bath seats and rings must be within arm's reach every second.
  • Teach children to swim after age 4.
  • Make sure children swim within designated swimming areas of rivers, lakes, and oceans.
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