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7/26/21blog post

keeping kids safe in and near the water this summer

Dayton Children’s is joining the rest of the world on July 25, 2021 in recognizing World Drowning Prevention Day.  Unfortunately, the Dayton region has seen a rise in drowning incidents this summer and there have been multiple tragic losses in all types of water.  The Dayton Children’s emergency department has seen eight near drownings and 23 injuries in and around water already this summer.  “Drowning and other injuries around water happen quickly, supervision is the best way to prevent drownings,” says Abbey Pettiford, an injury prevention coordinator at Dayton Children’s.  “Even if a lifeguard is present, their job is to scan the water for emergencies, not watch everyone in the water. Assigning an adult to watch the water is necessary every time kids are playing in or around water.” 

As the summer continues and children become more confident swimmers, drowning can happen fast and is silent, so it is important to stay diligent and continue supervising kids around water. Here are some tips to keep the whole family safe while cooling off and enjoying water activities:

  1. Teach children how to swim. Every child is different, so enroll children in swim lessons when they are ready. Consider their age, development and how often they are around water.  All children should know these life-saving skills:
    - Resurface in water
    - Turn around and get back to safety
    - Float and tread water
    - Move forward in the water
    - Exit the water
  2. Keep young kids and inexperienced swimmers within an arm’s reach. This applies both in and around water.
  3. Teach children that swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool. Open water has hazards such as cold temperatures, limited visibility, depth, uneven surfaces, currents, and undertow.
  4. Use designated swimming areas. Look for posted signs about open water hazards and for signs that say when lifeguards will be present.
  5. Never swim alone. Even the most confident swimmers should never swim alone. 
  6. Only use floatation devices approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.  Life jackets need to be appropriate for the child’s weight, height, and the water activity. All other floatation devices such as pool noodles, swim rings, water wings, puddle jumpers, and inflatable tubes, floats, and rafts should be avoided.

“The goal is to have fun and keep the whole family safe while enjoying the water,” says Pettiford.  For more information visit: