Parachute recommends parents follow these five layers of protection to keep children safe from drowning.
Always stay within sight and reach of your child when he is in or near water. This includes backyard pools, bathtubs, and open bodies of water such as lakes, rivers and oceans. If your child is under five years of age, or is a weak swimmer, stay within arm’s reach. Be sure to watch older children closely too. Even if older children can swim, they can still get into trouble, especially in open water.
An older sibling or buddy cannot safely supervise a younger child. Children have drowned when an older child or sibling was watching them.
Get trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), first aid, water rescue and swimming skills. If your child was to get into trouble while you were supervising, water safety training could help save her life. Contact your local municipality to find information on training in your community.
Almost half of all child drownings happen in backyard swimming pools. Research shows that four-sided pool fencing could prevent seven out of 10 drownings to children under five years of age. Most backyard pool fences go around only three sides of the pool. This means that children can still reach the pool right from the house.
Most children who have drowned in backyard pools fell into the water during a short time when their parents or caregivers were not watching them. Children drown quickly and quietly. A parent inside the house may not hear their child go out the back door of the house, slip into the water, and drown.
Safe pool fencing is designed so that children cannot climb over or under it. Pool fencing should be at least 1.2 metres high (four feet) and have a self-closing, self-latching gate.
Young children under five years of age and weak swimmers should wear lifejackets when they are in, on or around the water. You and your child should always wear lifejackets when riding in a boat. Nine out of 10 boaters who drown in Canada were not wearing lifejackets when they drowned. Wearing a lifejacket also sets a good example for children.
Make sure the lifejacket fits your child's weight and fits snugly. Check the label to make sure it has been approved by at least one of the following:
Swimming lessons are a good way for children to gain confidence around water. A survey by Safe Kids Canada found that more than four out of five parents believe that swimming lessons are the best way to protect a child from drowning. But swimming lessons alone cannot prevent your child from drowning.
Children under five years of age do not have the physical skills to perform swimming strokes on their own. Swimming lessons for toddlers should focus on introducing children to the water and teaching parents about water safety. Children five years of age and older can begin to learn swimming strokes and water skills. Always supervise your child closely even as he becomes a stronger swimmer.