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Drowning Prevention

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Water can be dangerous!

  • Playing in the water is lots of fun, but always remember – water can be dangerous!

A person can drown:

  • In small amounts of water:
    • A bath tub
    • A shallow pool
    • A bucket
    • A trench or ditch
  • When other people are around
  • Quietly… without yelling or splashing
  • Quickly… in just seconds

Even if someone survives after nearly drowning:

  • They may still suffer serious health problems:
    • Brain damage
    • Memory problems
    • Breathing problems
    • Loss of movement

Who is most at risk of drowning?

  • Infants and children under age 5
  • People with seizure disorders
  • People with disabilities that:
    • Limit movement
    • Make it hard to notice danger
  • Teenagers (especially boys)
  • Men

Most drownings happen when people:

  • Swim in pools, lakes or the ocean without someone constantly watching
  • Drink alcohol while playing near water
  • Go out in a boat or raft without a life jacket
  • Leave someone who has seizures or who can’t support themselves (including babies) alone in a bathtub

How can you keep from drowning?

  • Never swim alone.
    • Use the buddy system. Always swim with a friend!
    • Always know where your buddy is.
  • Only swim in areas where:
    • A lifeguard or experienced swimmers are watching
    • It says it is safe to swim - Look for ropes or signs
  • Never dive into water if you don’t know how deep it is! Go in slowly.
  • Never swim after drinking alcohol.
  • This tip sheet will help you stay safe near water!

Wear a life jacket!

  • Always wear a life jacket at the pool, the beach or on a boat. Make sure it fits!
    • The size should be on the inside of the jacket.
  • Test the fit of your life jacket.
    • Lift your arms straight up above your head.
    • Turn your head to the right and to the left.
    • The chest portion of the jacket should not touch your chin when you turn your head.

Stay safe at the beach.

  • The beach can be fun, but the ocean is not like a swimming pool!
  • The ocean is unpredictable. Waves and currents can be dangerous.
  • Look for signs that say:
    • If it is safe to swim.
    • Where it is safe to swim.
  • Check what the weather will be like before you go.
  • “Sneaker” waves can be dangerous.
  • Sneaker waves are bigger than normal waves. They can pull people into the water without warning.
  • Protect yourself from sneaker waves.
    • Always have someone with you.
    • Always watch for the next wave.

How can you tell if someone else is drowning?

  • When someone is drowning they are just trying to breathe. They may:
    • Not be able to call for help
    • Not be splashing
  • There are some signs to watch for. A person who is drowning may:
    • Have their head tilted back
    • Be looking around for help

If you think someone is drowning, act quickly!

  • Tell other people and call 9-1-1.
  • Tell the person to stay calm, look at you and kick their feet.
  • Throw them a floating object (a life preserver or cushion).
  • If someone is drowning, DON’T go in the water yourself.
  • You can help only if you stay safe!
  • You may get hurt by going into the water to help someone.
    • They may pull you underwater, too.
    • There may be dangerous waves or currents in the water, even if you can’t see them from the shore.
  • Only a trained and certified lifeguard should go in the water to help a drowning victim.

Drowning can happen at home.

  • Many drowning accidents happen in the bathtub.
  • If you have seizures or if it’s hard for you to take a bath, don’t be shy… ask for help!
  • Never leave a child or person who can’t support themselves alone in the bathtub.
  • If there is a pool where you live, make sure it’s fenced in and keep the gate locked.

Learn more about water safety and drowning prevention:

Resources about drowning prevention for support persons:

PDF icon SP_DrowningPrev_v2.pdf655.32 KB
Last updated on Tue, 05/18/2010 - 16:40