As many families plan summer vacations and activities, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges families and caregivers to provide multiple layers of protection to keep children and teens safe around water this summer, including swim lessons.
“Drowning is the single leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 4, and it’s one of the top causes of death for teens. In the summer, children often have more access to pools, lakes and other sources of water – all of which pose a drowning risk,” said pediatrician Sarah Denny, MD, FAAP, the lead author of AAP guidance on “Prevention of Drowning.”
During the COVID pandemic shutdowns, many local pools and park districts canceled summer swim classes, and many parents opted to keep children closer to home to protect against infection. As water safety programs are again available, it’s an opportunity to enroll children in classes that teach lifesaving swimming and water safety skills.
“Swim lessons teach children a life skill that could help save their lives,” said Dr. Denny, also lead author of a 2021 Prevention of Drowning technical report. “Research shows that formal swim lessons for children age 1 and older reduce the risk of drowning. Swim lessons are an important layer of protection to prevent drowning, in addition to pool fencing, close supervision and lifeguards while swimming, life jackets on boats and lakes, and CPR training.”
AAP also offers social media graphics, videos, articles and more content on water safety that is available for sharing. See the AAP Drowning Prevention Campaign Toolkit for more.
According to the AAP, the layers of protection to prevent drowning should include:
“We can’t drown-proof kids, so it’s important to make sure that there is fencing and other barriers around water to make sure children can’t get into water when unsupervised,” Dr. Denny said. “When a young or unskilled swimmer is in the water, a water watcher or parent should be within arm’s length. Even when a child has learned to swim, water watchers should keep them in view constantly while swimming.”
For more AAP resources on drowning prevention, visit aap.org/drowning, or contact AAP Public Affairs to request an interview.