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​​​Drowning and drowning prevention: what you need to know

Drowning can occur quickly and quietly, without any warning noises.

Drowning ranks amongst the top three causes of death by unintentional injury in most countries, including Singapore. Babies and toddlers are top-heavy, which puts them at higher risk of drowning. If a baby falls into shallow water, they can’t always lift themselves out.

Water safety for kids: the basics

It’s essential to always stay with your child and watch closely whenever they’re near water – even when your child can swim.

Supervision means being able to see your child and also keeping your child within arm’s reach at all times. You should be in able to respond quickly, whether you’re at the beach or the swimming pool or at home near the toilet or yard. Hold your child’s hand when you’re near waves.

Supervision is not an occasional glance while you nap, read or do household chores. It’s not watching your children playing outside while you’re inside. It’s always best for an adult, not an older child, to supervise.

You should also teach your child about water safety and how to swim from a young age. Many children can learn to swim by the time they’re 4-5 years old.

First aid is an essential skill for the entire family to learn. If you know how to do CPR and what to do in an emergency, it could save your child’s life.

Water safety around the house

Highest occurrence of submersion incidents involving children take place at condominium pools. A young child can drown in just a few centimetres of water.

Here are some tips to prevent drowning and improve water safety around your house:

  • Remove any containers with water in them from around the house and make sure your child can’t get to any bodies of water, including the bath, on their own. 

  • Always empty the baby bath as soon as you’re finished with it so older siblings can’t climb in.

  • ​Empty sinks, tubs, pails, baths, basins and paddling pools immediately after use. 

  • Secure covers to ponds and cover other water features with wire mesh, or keep them empty 

  • Keep aquariums and fishbowls out of reach of small children.

Water safety around dams, creeks, ponds and tanks

Children don’t always understand, apply or remember rules, especially when they’re distracted by play. So a securely fenced, safe play area can be an effective barrier between small children and water hazards. 

Here are tips to improve water safety around your property:

  • Fence off the area between the house and any bodies of water.

  • Teach your child to not go near bodies of water without you.

  • Fence off, drain or seal ponds if your children or visiting children are less than six years old.

Water safety around beaches

Here are tips to improve water safety near the sea:​​

  • Always stay with your child when they’re playing in or near the sea. Hold your child’s hand near waves and when swimming in the sea.

  • Take your child only to patrolled beaches where lifeguards are present.

  • Teach your school-age child what to do if they need help – shout for help, stay calm, float and raise an arm to signal to a lifeguard.

© raisingchildren.net.au, translated and adapted with permission