WaterSmart_Drop_180 When a child drowning occurs, more than just the victim is impacted. For responders, drowning of a young child becomes more difficult with each lifeless child.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Responders are often parents themselves and see the faces of their own young children while administering resuscitation efforts to the drowning victim.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Upon arrival to the scene, responders often recognize there is no chance for survival, or if resuscitated, the child will have irreversible brain damage.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Responders are faced with the trauma of not only the drowning victim, but with the grieving parents witnessing their unresponsive child.

Key Points

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Drowning is NOT accidental; Drowning is an unintentional injury or death.

Referring to a drowning as an accident implies that the incident could not have been prevented. 

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Drowning is Preventable.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Constant, vigilant adult supervision of young children is critical around any type of water in and outside of the home, and during water play.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Use of barriers, alarms, locks and 4-sided fencing is essential to prevent unsupervised access to pools and other water outside of the home. 

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Drowning is Predictable

WaterSmart_Drop_180 The highest rate of drowning is among children ages 1 to 4.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Most drowning occurs in a residential pool.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 At least one parent or family member is nearby when a child wanders away unnoticed.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Risk Factors for child drowning:

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Absence of adult supervision

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Lack of knowledge, disregard or misjudgment of the hazard

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Easy access to water

WaterSmart_Drop_180 An inability to respond properly in a drowning situation

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Immediate bystander CPR can make the difference between life and death.

Delay of removing the child from the water and beginning bystander CPR with rescue breaths can negatively impact the outcome of a drowning. Irreversible brain damage occurs in as little as 4 minutes.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Children drown because they do not know how to swim.

The ability to swim is NOT a totally reliable protective measure; regardless of swimming competency children require close and constant supervision.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 During social gatherings, children are well protected because of several adults supervising.

Social gatherings can increase the drowning risk for children, as assumptions are made that everyone is watching the children.  A designated responsible adult Water Watcher is an imperative safety precaution.

Standardized Terminology

Drowning (as defined by the World Health Organization, adopted by the 2002 World Congress on Drowning) is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid.  Drowning outcomes are classified as death, morbidity and no morbidity.

Unintentional vs. accidental drowning;

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Unintentional drowning is the correct term to use in a submersion incident, as it implies that the event occurred without intent of harm and could have been prevented if proper safety practices were in place.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Accidental drowning is a term that should not be used, as it promotes the idea that injuries cannot be prevented, when in fact, relatively simple strategies can prevent drowning. And, in some cases, neglect or abuse on the part of the parent, guardian, or care provider result in the drowning incident, and may warrant criminal investigation.

The terms wet, dry, active, passive, silent, secondary drowning should no longer be used as stated by the World Health Organization.

Near Drowning

Near drowning is an outdated term and should not be used to describe a “nonfatal” drowning.

Drowning Injuries and Fatalities can be split into two groups:

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Recreational drowning – incidents that happen while using water for recreational purposes.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Non-recreational drowning – incidents that happen when a person never intended to be in the water at the time, or, incidents involving unsupervised children accessing water.

Drowning Outcomes, as defined by the World Congress on Drowning

WaterSmart_Drop_180 No morbidity – no injury

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Morbidity – injury

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Mortality – death

Supervision needs to be close, constant, and capable.  The adult needs to be responsible, sober and, ideally to be able to perform a basic rescue, initiate CPR and call for help.

WaterSmart_Drop_180 Inappropriate supervision is the correct term to use when referring to a lapse or absence of adult supervision of a child. In some situations the decisions or behaviors of the adult supervisor place a child at significant risk for physical, emotional or psychological harm and warrants notification to the Child Abuse hotline and an investigation by BSO Child Protective Investigation Section.

Touch Supervision, an adult supervisor within arm’s length of any child who is a weak or non-swimmer.  The attention of the supervising adult is constantly focused on the child, and the adult is not engaging in other distracting activities (on the phone, socializing, and reading).  Touch supervision is also required if the child is prone to seizures or wandering tendencies.