Splish Splash Summer Safety: How to Keep Your Kids Safe in The Water this Summer

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Teaching your kids to be safe around the pool is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. We want to make sure you and your children are safe and have fun at the beach, lake or pool this summer. That’s why we talked to Tamar Levene, MD, pediatric surgeon at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, about water safety and how to make sure the unthinkable doesn’t happen.

Water Safety Adds Up: Drowning Data

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Every day a child dies in the United States from drowning and it’s the number one cause of death for toddlers. For every child that drowns, four to five children will come to the emergency department for near drowning.

That translates to 1,800 cases in the U.S. every year, with Florida leading the country.

Drownings and near drownings can happen in an instant, and the effects can last forever.

  • It takes only twenty seconds for a child to fall under the water.
  • It takes four minutes for them to sustain irreversible brain damage or death from drowning.
  • The brain damage children could experience from a near drowning can leave them unable to feed themselves or even dependent on feeding tubes.

Water Safety is So Important, You Can’t Just “Wing” It

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Many parents buy water wings thinking they will keep their kids safe, but the truth is water wings just aren’t safe.

They give a false sense of security that a child will float on the water, when they can still drown even with water wings on. Water wings may not support a child’s weight and sometimes when they fall under the water, they don’t come back to the surface.

Three Tips to Help Kids Play Safe at the Beach or Pool


1. Swim Instruction

Swimming is the #1 skill to help your child stay safe in the water. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim instruction for all children ages 1-4.

2. Install Proper Pool Barriers and Alarms

Fences should be four feet high with less than 4 inches between the slats so kids can’t slip through them. They need to have a self-latching and close mechanism that’s 54 inches high so children can’t reach it.

3. Assign a Water Watcher

Most think that at parties, more people present means more people watching the kids. This is not true! There are usually more distractions in big groups, so it’s essential to hire a lifeguard, or assign a water watcher.

This is someone monitoring everyone in the water, not on their cell phones or engaged in conversation. They should be poolside and readily identifiable as the water watcher.

Spending time in the water is great exercise for kids and a fun way to keep them moving and off of screens. To make sure your summer swimming fun is a “day at the beach”, follow Dr. Levene’s water safety tips.

Play safe and don’t forget to have fun!

About the Author

Mirensky Tamar L Tamar Levene, MD, is a pediatric general and thoracic surgeon at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital. She performs surgeries on babies and children, with a specific focus on minimally invasive approaches and techniques. Her expertise includes surgical treatment for many congenital anomalies, from intestinal problems and abdominal wall and lung abnormalities to hernias, breast masses and appendicitis. She also treats children with cancer and those who have suffered trauma. Dr. Levene also has an interest in pediatric obesity and bariatric surgery.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions presented in this blog post do not reflect the ideas and opinions of Memorial Healthcare System.