How to Protect Your Child from Drowning


Keeping cool in the pool, lake or water park is a summer ritual. Swimming is the most popular summer activity, but emergency room physicians say summer fun can turn to tragedy in a matter of seconds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drowning ranks as the leading cause of death for children ages one to four. Among all ages, drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States, resulting in about 4,000 deaths each year. In 2017, Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas reported 38 near-drownings. The majority occurred in swimming and community pools. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Service reports 78 fatal drownings in Texas last year.

“Parents or caregivers should constantly provide “touch supervision” for infants, toddlers, or weak swimmers, meaning the child is within arm’s reach at all times, when in a pool or water,” said Eric Higginbotham, MD, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Dell Children’s.

Summer Water Safety

  • As you prepare to go on vacation to local lakes, rivers, beaches, pools or a water park this summer, please plan for and talk about water safety with your family and friends.
  • Always watch children around water. Designate an adult to be the one watching children in the water.
  • Non-swimmers or weak swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. Everyone should wear a life jacket in open water. Water wings or arm floaties are not a floatation device and should not be relied upon to keep kids afloat.
  • Four-sided pool fencing is recommended to keep children from accessing the pool without an adult knowing. Make sure gates are closed and latches work properly.
  • Summer is a great time to enroll children in swim lessons!

Key Statistics: 

  • So far in 2018, 22 children in Texas lost their lives to a fatal drowning. In 2017, 78 children lost their lives to a fatal drownings in Texas.
  • In Central Texas, most drownings occur in residential pools.
  • Drowning remains the number one cause of death for children ages one in four and a leading cause for children up to 14 years old. Drowning is PREVENTABLE.

For more water safety information and resources go to Safe Kids Austin, led by Dell Children’s.