Summer Safety Series: Water Safety and Drowning Prevention – Part 1

With school now out and summer already upon us, playing in and around water can make for a great day outdoors with children. With all of the outdoor fun, water safety is an important part of keeping kids safe.

Why is Water Safety So Important?

Parachute Canada reports that preventable injuries kill more Canadian children than any single disease, and more youth than all other causes combined. Worst of all, 1 child dies every 9 hours.

Each year in Canada, preventable injuries cause:

  • 16,000 deaths
  • 60,000 disabilities
  • 5 million emergency room visits
  • a $27 billion economic burden to the Canadian economy

Drowning is the second leading cause of injury related death for Canadian children, with almost 60 children drowning every year.[1] For each drowning death, at least 1 to 4 children experience a serious near-drowning submersion, which can lead to long-term health effects, including permanent disabilities and brain injuries.[2]

Parents and caregivers can ensure that time spent in and around water is both fun and safe by keeping the following tips in mind:

Active Supervision

There is no replacement for active supervision when children are in and around water. Small children can drown in as little as one inch of water,[3] which calls for undivided parental or guardian attention. Active supervision will not only provide piece of mind, but it will act as an extra safeguard against drowning.

Installation of Swimming Pool Fences

The installation of swimming pool fences is used to reduce children from unintentionally accessing pool areas. It is a key component of child water safety.  Swimming pool fences are regulated by city by-laws and therefore vary city to city. Be sure to check with your municipality for the applicable fencing requirements and regulations.

Start Swimming Lessons at a Young Age

Swimming lessons are a great preventative measure against drowning. With swimming lessons, children can use the skills acquired to stay above water and swim to safety. This is not only a great preventative measure, but it is also a great way for kids to develop strength and keep active.

Use of Flotation Devices

The use of a life jacket or a personal flotation device is another important preventative measure against drowning. Flotation devices are especially imperative for children of younger ages or for children who have basic swimming skills.

It is essential to keep the size and weight of your child in mind prior to purchasing a flotation device. Be sure to check the current national safety standards and pick the most suitable flotation device for her child:


[2] Ruth A. Brenner, “Prevention of Drowning in Infants, Children, and Adolescents“ (2003) Vol. 112 No. 2, Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, online:


Colleen McHugh


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