'I'll Hear Them If They're in Trouble': The 7 Most Deadly Misconceptions About Kids & Swimming

misconceptions about drowning

One of the most popular ways kids spend their summer vacation is swimming or splashing in a pool, lake, or ocean. (Heck, usually any body of cool water will do.) But fun can quickly turn to tragedy without taking the right safety precautions. In fact, two children age 14 or younger die from unintentional drowning each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control, making drowning the second leading cause of injury death for children in that age group. 


New research from Safe Kids Worldwide and Nationwide's Make Safe Happen program uncovers some alarming misconceptions about water safety that could help parents and caregivers prevent a tragedy from occurring.

Kate Carr, chief executive officer of Safe Kids Worldwide, points out that two-thirds of those deaths occur between May and August, which means now is the time to be more vigilant than ever.

In their survey of 1,003 parents of kids ages 1-12, Safe Kids Worldwide and Nationwide found seven common misconceptions about water safety that could leave children at risk.

CafeMom had a chance to speak with Carr about the findings and how these misguided perceptions can be corrected.

1. I will hear my child if he/she gets in trouble in the water and starts to drown.

In reality, drowning is silent. Often, there can be very little splashing, waving, or screaming. Carr advises that parents and caregivers keep their eyes on kids at all times and have them easily within arm's reach.

2. Nothing bad will happen if I take my full attention off my child for a couple of minutes.

Of the parents surveyed, one in three said they've left their child at a pool for two or more minutes without supervision. But once a child begins to struggle, you may have less than a minute to react. So put your phone or your tablet away and don't allow yourself to get distracted, Carr says.

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3. If there is a lifeguard present, I don’t need to worry as much about actively supervising my child in and around water.

As Safe Kids Worldwide points out, a lifeguard’s job is to enforce pool rules, scan, rescue, and resuscitate, not keep an eye on any specific child.

misconceptions about drowning

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4. If my child has had swim lessons, I don’t have to worry about him/her drowning.

While Carr notes that swim lessons are vitally important, they're no guarantee your child is safe in the water.

5.  If my child can swim, he or she has all the necessary survival skills.

Carr explains there are also misconceptions when it comes to what it means to truly having life-saving water skills. These five are key, she says:

  1. Step or jump into the water over their heads
  2. Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute
  3. Turn around in a full circle and find an exit from the water
  4. Swim 25 yards to the exit
  5. Exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder

More from CafeMom: 7 Scary Water Dangers Every Parent Should Be Aware Of

6. I  have a fence around pool, my child is safe.

Carr shares a heartbreaking story of 3-year-old twin boys who were able to crawl under a gap in the fence surrounding a pool and make their way into the water. Sadly, both succumbed to drowning.

"Yes, a fence is important and it should be four feet high and have the appropriate locks. But it's only a layer of protection," she explains.

7. Learning CPR is not going to make a difference if my child gets into water.

Carr points out that many parents and caregivers haven't been trained in CPR because they say they lack the time or opportunity. But, she says, if an emergency occurs and someone is able to begin administering CPR in the moments before emergency responders arrive, that can contribute greatly to the ability to survive. Outside of swim season, learning CPR and how to operate an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) could be crucial should an incident arise.

"It's one of those skills that could just save a life," she says.

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It's also a good idea to designate a responsible adult as the "water watcher." So there's no confusion, Kids Safe Worldwide offers a downloadable Water Watch Card that can be passed to the person actively supervising.

As you enjoy the water this weekend, keep these tips in your mind, and your family safe. 


Image via Funny Solution Studio/Shutterstock

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