Drowning Prevention

Drowning is the main cause of death for Sacramento’s toddlers and preschoolers. In Sacramento County, 70% of drowning deaths occur in children under the age of 5. In California, every year, 75 families lose a child under the age of 5 to drowning. Help protect your child from these preventable tragedies.

Drownings Can Be Prevented

The majority of drowning deaths occur in the family pool with 70% of the incidents occurring between 2 - 8 p.m. 

Drowning is a quick and silent killer. In the time it takes to do these simple tasks, a child can become submerged, loose consciousness, sustain permanent brain damage, or die. 

  • Get a towel (10 seconds)
  • Answer the phone (2 minutes)
  • Answer the front door (4-6 minutes)

ABC & Ds of Drowning Prevention

Read the following ABC and Ds of drowning prevention to learn how to keep your child safe:

  • A = Adult Supervision
  • B = Barriers (for your pool)
  • C = Classes (swim lessons and CPR)
  • D = Devices (personal flotation devices (PFD’s), life jackets, and rescue tools)
ABC Drowning Prevention Adult

A = Adult Supervision

Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death in Sacramento County for young children.

Constant adult supervision is essential in preventing childhood drownings. These tragedies often occur while a caregiver is at home and there is a brief lapse in supervision. 

A drowning can occur in seconds, in any water which covers a child’s nose and mouth including bathtubs, buckets, inflatable pools, natural bodies of water, pools, spas, toilets

Always remember to:

  • Designate an adult who can swim to actively supervise children around water.
  • Hire a certified lifeguard for pool parties, beach barbecues or social gatherings around water.
  • Maintain visual contact. Remain close to your child when in a pool, spa or bathtub.
  • Teach all children to get out of the water if a supervising adult leaves the pool area.
ABC Drowning Prevention Barrier installed

B = Barriers (for your pool)

Installation and proper use of barriers or "layers of protection" is crucial. Many victims were last seen safe inside the home. 

Isolation fences must separate the pool or spa from the residence with openings no more than 4 inches wide so children cannot squeeze through spaces. They must be non-climbable, four-sided and a minimum of 48 inches high. A fence that measures 60 inches high is recommended.

Additional Barrier Advice:

  • Doggie doors must be alarmed or secured. A crawling baby can exit through a doggie door and drown in an unprotected pool.
  • Doors and windows leading to a pool or spa must be alarmed to alert family members when opened.
  • Doors, windows, and gates must be locked. Doors and gates must also be self-closing and self-latching.
  • Gates must be closed and never propped open. When a pool is not in use, gates must be locked with a combination lock so small children cannot get the key to open.
  • Perimeter fences must be non-climbable, four-sided and a minimum of 60 inches high.
  • Power operated pool covers provide safety and are easy to use. Solar and floating pool covers are not safety covers and do not provide adequate protection. Children can slip underneath and become trapped out of site.
  • Self-closing, self-latching fence gates are recommended. Latches must be mounted above the reach of small children. Gates must open away from pool. Contact your local building department for specific requirements.
  • Spa safety covers that support the weight of an adult must be locked to protect spa when not in use.
  • Tables, chairs and planters must be moved away from pool fence and secured so they cannot be used for climbing over fence.
ABC Drowning Prevention Classes

C = Classes (Swim Lessons, CPR) 

The responsibility of pool and spa ownership is to ensure family members learn to swim and know CPR.

Class Information

Rules of the Water:

  • Enroll children in age–appropriate, year-round swim lessons taught by qualified instructors to maintain swimming skills. Non-swimming family members need lessons too. 
  • Never consider children "drown-proof" or "water-safe" despite age, swimming skills, previous lessons or experience. This may lead to a lack of supervision or a false sense of security.
  • Require parents, grandparents and caregivers to know CPR, rescue techniques and how to call 9-1-1. 
    • Take refresher courses to help maintain CPR skills.
    • CPR skills save lives and prevent brain damage by maintaining a person’s breathing and heartbeat until medical assistance arrives.
ABC Drowning Prevention Device

D = Devices (PFDs, life jackets and rescue tools)

Create a safe pool environment. Be prepared and practice lifesaving procedures prior to an emergency situation. 

Children and non-swimmers must wear personal flotation devices (PFD or life jacket), which are US Coast Guard approved around any body of open water.

Floaties or inflatable toys are not designed to be used as a PFD, life-jacket or substitute for adult supervision.

Additional Device Advice:

  • A pool side phone is an essential part of a safe pool environment. It allows access to 9-1-1 and avoids leaving children unattended to answer the phone.
  • All pool and boat owners must know “reaching assist techniques.”
  • Install a toy box away from the pool. Toys in or around a pool or spa entice children to that area.
  • Lifesaving ring, shepherd’s hook and CPR instructions should be mounted at pool side. Rescue equipment must be accessible and in good repair.
  • Post 9-1-1 emergency number, home phone number and home address at every telephone.