Dell Children’s launches new drowning prevention and water safety program


Dell Children’s Medical Center and Safe Kids Austin announce the development of the Dell Children’s Drowning Prevention and Water Safety program with a goal of reducing drowning fatalities and injuries for children in Central Texas and beyond. The program includes education, statistical data evaluation, and community collaboration on water safety for children, and will create strategies for changes in the community to help prevent child drownings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages one to four.  Sadly, last year Dell Children’s saw a record number of 47 nonfatal drowning cases involving children, and 6 fatalities. In 2019, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services reported 87 drowning fatalities of children in Texas. Since the beginning of this year, 18 children have drowned in Texas.

“This program will be critically important as the temperatures continue to rise and pools and water recreation areas look to reopen in the coming weeks,” said Elizabeth Boriack, Drowning Prevention Program Coordinator at Dell Children’s. “This new program will help to identify drowning risks and increase access to prevention resources, with a particular focus on the higher risk population of children ages one to four.” 

Drowning Prevention and Water Safety program initiatives: 

  • Increase access to prevention resources, such as swimming lessons, life jackets, and  the number of water safety instructors in the community.
  • Amplify water safety messaging and collaboration with community partners, including Colin’s Hope, The Zac Foundation, government agencies, safety advocates and health care professionals.    
  • Identify drowning risks and statistics, prevention efforts, and evaluation of the impact of these efforts for our communities.
  • A review and recommendation of statewide and local policies pertaining to water safety, including pool alarms and fencing barriers.

“One of the major components of the Drowning Prevention and Water Safety program is the planned collaboration with local organizations to increase and amplify water safety awareness in the community,” said Christopher M. Born, President of Dell Children’s Medical Center. “Our goal is to prevent tragedies and save lives.”  

Water Safety Tips: 

  • Drowning prevention requires multiple layers of prevention since a single layer alone is unlikely to prevent drowning
  • A child should be constantly supervised by an undistracted adult when or near water, even if the child has had swim lessons. Drowning usually occurs quickly and silently.
  • Barriers such as fence alarms, door alarms, pool alarms, and pool covers are recommended to prevent unsupervised access to water. Drowning can occur even during non-swim time if a child goes to the pool or other water source unnoticed.
  • Pool fences should be 4-sided, meaning they completely separate the pool from the house and yard, be 4 feet or taller, and have self-latching, self-closing gates.
  • When in the pool, bathtub, or any type of water, toddlers and infants should be no more than an arm’s length away from their parent or caregiver. 
  • Swim lessons are recommended as one way to help reduce drowning risk starting as 1 year of age, depending on the child’s developmental readiness. However, swim lessons do not make a child drown-proof and constant supervision is still needed even for children who can swim.


We invite the community to be involved with the work of this new program. Connect with us by visiting our website and follow us on Facebook (@SafeKidsAustin) and Instagram for program information and activity updates.