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Water Safety & Kids

After attending a wonderful pediatric conference in Virginia Beach last week, I thought I would give a few pointers on water safety and children. Water is an ever present danger for young children - in fact, it is possible for a toddler to drown in as little as a couple of inches of water. There has been increasing evidence over the last few years that swimming lessons for young children aren't just fun: they may be an important step to decrease drowning risk. However, we also know that it is extremely unlikely for children under the age of 4 to be able to swim well independently - so always be within arm's length of a swimming preschooler. Remember that "water wings" and similar partial flotation devices provide little protection to young children, and should never take the place of a life vest/personal flotation device around water. If you have a young child, remember that a four-sided fence with a lock is the best way to protect a young child from unsupervised access to a swimming pool - drownings have been reported in the presence of pool covers and pool alarms, so these can't take the place of adequate fencing.  The best rule for young children is still never more than an arm's length's away around water - and even teenagers should never swim alone!
Dr. Nechyba