All Quotes From AAP Official Statement
American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement on baby and toddler drowning, “Prevention Of Drowning”, on March 15th in the journal Pediatrics. The article aims to remind parents that drowning is often silent and quick, with over 1,000 children losing their lives to preventable drowning deaths each year. These updated recommendations on toddler and baby water safety are meant to help parents focus on preventing accidents.
“Many of these deaths occur when children are not expected to be swimming or when they have unanticipated access to water.”
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Pediatricians advise parents to keep their children away from large bodies of water like pools, lakes, or ponds. If you own a pool, consult your local legislation. You may be required to fence in your pool by law; even if you aren’t, it’s still a best practice in homes with small children. Keep gates to the pool locked at all times. When kids are spending time in the pool or swimming elsewhere, an adult should always stay within arm’s reach. Even bathtime should be supervised at all times!
“Toddlers are naturally curious; that’s why we must implement other strategies, such as pool fencing and door locks.”
The updated recommendations also cover older children and adolescents. Over the past 50 years, AAP guidelines have helped decrease the number of child deaths due to SIDS, drowning, and motor vehicle accidents. However, the rate of decline in these avoidable tragedies has slowed significantly in recent years. This has led the APP to re-evaluate some of the causes of these incidents.
While young children can drown because they are curious and unaware of the dangers of water, older children do understand that serious accidents can happen. After toddlers, the second-highest rate of fatalities is preteens and teenagers. These older children are more likely to combine alcohol or drug use with their time around water. This mix of mind-altering substances and swimming can lead to fatal consequences.
Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death among children. In 2017, nearly 9,000 kids sought emergency medical attention to address a near-drowning. Even if these children survived submersion, they might still suffer what’s called “secondary drowning” or “dry drowning”. In this situation, the child aspirates water during the initial near-drowning accident. After a few hours, the child appears to be “back to normal”. However, their lungs can quickly become inflamed, filling with congestion and more fluid in response to the water trapped inside. Secondary drowning can happen hours or even days after the first contact with water.
“Research has found that swim lessons are beneficial for children starting around age 1, and may lower drowning rates.”
Ideally, swim lessons can help your child feel more confident in and around water. It’s important to remember that no matter how good the instructor or how competent the swimmer, children must still be supervised around water. No swim class can replace the peace of mind from a safety fence around a pool.
The AAP is proactively working to prevent child drowning deaths. Together with families, they can help children avoid these accidents altogether!