For young children, there is a real risk of drowning in the home or garden, including neighbours’ gardens. As they get older, the risks are associated more with children exploring and challenging themselves around water. As children grow in confidence they can over-estimate their abilities.

How can drowning be prevented?

At home, younger children are most likely to drown in the bath or garden pond. It’s important for parents to understand the risks of babies and young children being left alone, even for a moment. They may get no warning that something is wrong, as babies drown silently in as little as 5 cm of water.

Children under 8 need to be supervised in and around water. They might understand safety instructions but are likely to forget in the heat of the moment. Remember that children don’t cry out for help and wave to be rescued. Instead they disappear under the surface of the water, often unseen.

As children become stronger swimmers, it’s important to educate both them and their parents about  water safety. They may still lack the strength and skills to get themselves out of trouble if they find themselves in strong currents or deep water, or discover too late dangerous objects lurking in the water.

Whether you’re educating parents about the risks to their young child, or trying to get across messages to children about being aware of risks around water, there are lots of simple messages. A few examples of the messages you’ll find in CAPT’s resources are:

  • Stay with your baby all the time when they’re in the bath, even if there is an older brother or sister in the bath with them.  
  • If you have a pond and a young child or baby, they will be safer if you fill it in, fence it off or securely cover it.  And make sure your garden is secure, so your child can’t get to the neighbour’s pond.
  • Children under 8 years old need to be supervised in and around water. They might understand instructions but are likely to forget if they are having fun or are excited.
  • Teach older children to choose safe places to swim, such as public pools and beaches patrolled by lifeguards, rather than canals, gravel pits and rivers.

More information

CAPT’s range of leaflets and booklets will support you in your work with parents and carers by underlining the key safety messages. The leaflets are written with different stages of child development in mind, and are a key support tool when teaching parents about child accident prevention.