Toddlers are at high risk because they are mobile, curious and require constant, close supervision by an adult. Most toddler drownings occur when children are alone, even for "a moment" and fall in while playing near water.
Children under five years of age depend on parents and caregivers because they cannot protect or rescue themselves.
Important facts and reminders:
If you are not within arms' reach of your children anytime they are around water, you are too far.
Drowning is a silent killer and can happen in as little as 10 seconds. Parents and caregivers must be within arms' reach of their children whenever they are near water - in the backyard, at the beach, and in the bathroom. Simple things like reading or checking your phone can easily result in a lapse in attentiveness long enough for a child to get into trouble.
Restrict and control access to water for children - make sure they can't get to water without you.
Many toddlers drown because they unexpectedly gained access to the water - the backyard pool, the lake or the bathtub. Typically, human error leads to a gate or door being left open or a lock unsecured.
If you can't eliminate the water hazard, restrict access to it by fencing off natural or manmade bodies of water on your property and ensure that gates are self-closing and self-latching. Drain bathtubs when not in use, and empty unattended wading pools and buckets of water and turn them over. Layers of protection will reduce the chance of human error.
Stay tubside until the water has fully drained.
Most bathtub drownings occur because children are left alone for "just for a moment" - so parents and caregivers should stay within arms' reach around water even inside the home.
Put toddlers in a lifejacket.
As an extra layer of protection, put toddlers in a lifejacket when they are near water. Lifejackets do not replace attentive supervision, but will keep a toddler at the surface, which may give parents the seconds they need to save a life.
Designate a backyard pool "lifeguard."
An adult should always supervise children using a pool - in-ground, above-ground or wading pool. If one adult must be absent for a moment, designate a replacement or close the pool until someone can assume supervisory duties.
Enroll in Parent & Tot aquatic programs.
A positive introduction to water can give your child a lifetime of swimming pleasure. Download the Society's new Within Arms' Reach poster in English or French. Contact Daksha Moti for hard copies. To order any brochures, posters and materials that the Society has developed as part of the Water Smart campaign, visit lifeguarddepot.com.
Tips for parents and caregivers of children Under 5
Download these tips for parents and caregivers of children under 5 (English).
Read these tips in 10 other languages:
Chinese - Simplified
Chinese - Traditional
Learn to Swim
Basic swimming ability is a fundamental requirement in any meaningful attempt to eliminate drowning in Canada. The Lifesaving Society offers training programs from learn-to-swim through advanced lifesaving, lifeguarding and leadership.
Our Swim for Life program stresses lots of in-water practice to develop solid swimming strokes and skills. We incorporate valuable Water Smart® education that will last a lifetime.
Swim to Survive is a Lifesaving Society survival training program. Swim to Survive is not a subsititute for swimming lessons; instead, it defines the minimum skills needed to survive an unexpected fall into deep water. People of all ages should be able to perform the Society's Swim to Survive standard.