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Water Safety

Did You Know?

  • Swimming pools are the most common site for a drowning to occur for children ages 1 to 4.
  • Eighty-nine percent of boating deaths of all ages occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instructions.
  • The majority of infant drowning deaths happen in bathtubs or large buckets.
  • African-American kids ages 5 to 14 are almost three times more likely to drown than white children. 
  • The use of specially made drain covers, safety vacuum-release systems, multiple filter pumps and other pressure-venting pool filter mechanisms can reduce the risk of entrapment in pools.

Working for Change

In partnership with Young Minds Inspired and with the support of U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Head Start Association, Safe Kids developed Start Safe: Water, a program designed for children 2 to 4 years old and their families to prevent accidental drowning. 

The Start Safe: Water program emphasizes three key messages for families when in and around water: Lock, Look, Learn. Safety messages are delivered to children, parents and caregivers through educators, local Safe Kids coalitions.

Safe Kids also partners with local organizations and educators to teach water safety at home and in and around pools, spas and open bodies of water. Water safety program materials are free of charge and available for downloaded.

African-American kids ages 5 to 14 are almost three times more likely to drown than white children. Safe Kids is a partner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in annual pool safety programs, which focus on underserved communities. Our joint efforts concentrate on water safety in and around homes.

Kids Don't Float is another important Safe Kids program.  It gives children and families the opportunity to borrow life jackets from loaner stations near lakes or marinas.  These stations provide life jackets to those families who otherwise might not wear one while in or near open water.  Life jackets can prevent drowning incidents among swimmers and non-swimmers.  Water safety experts and educators emphasize the importance of using life jackets through outreach events and workshops.  

We offer free or discounted swim lessons, CPR classes and life jackets through many local Safe Kids coalitions.

We also support the CPSC’s Pool Safety Campaign by teaching families how to keep children safe around backyard pools and spas through community events and workshops.

Research

Safe Kids conducts research to study the attitudes and behaviors of parents and caregivers regarding water safety. These reports inform our public policy efforts and awareness campaigns so we reach as many families as possible.

Public Policy

Safe Kids works with local, state and national legislators to protect kids from drowning. For example, Safe Kids worked with Congress to pass the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act. The law establishes standards for the way drains in pools and spas are designed and was inspired by the tragedy of Virginia Graeme Baker, a 7-year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker IV. Virginia was pulled underwater in a spa by a powerful suction from a drain and drowned as her mother desperately tried to save her. Safe Kids continues to monitor implementation of the law and participates in the educational efforts required in the law. 

Safe Kids is also working with state legislatures in Virginia and Wisconsin to pass laws that require kids to wear life jackets on state waterways.  Safe Kids supports the actions of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board to stop the use of cell phones and wireless devices while operating a vessel.

Partners

Safe Kids works with the U.S. Consumer Product Commission (CPSC) and the National Head Start Association to promote water safety.

Additional Resources

We also offer the following tools to teach and remind families about water safety:

Drowning statistics for children