Toddler Water Safety
Toddlers have a higher drowning risk than any other age group, largely due to their impulsive and curious natures.
As a result, the statistics are telling: Drowning is the leading cause of death in toddlers aged 1 to 4. Here’s what you need to know to protect your toddler from dangers in and around the water.
Create More Layers of Protection
Barriers around pools, bathtubs, and natural bodies of water can be life-saving. Install a regularly inspected fence with a lock and key that goes around your pool and keep the key out of reach of children.
See our Water Safety page for more information on creating barriers of protection as well as learning the ABCDs of water safety.
Assign Water Watchers
Grandparents, caregivers, or any responsible adult can be a water-watcher. Whether it’s at the pool or lake, encourage them to be in the water for safety reasons and, if they’re rusty at being a water watcher, remind them of the basics.
It’s always important to remind caregivers to be in arms reach of children at all times around water.
Install an alarm to monitor movement around the pool
It’s best to buy an alarm that beeps if doors or windows to the pool are open, and one that goes off when the surface of the water is disrupted by movement.
Install anti-entrapment drain covers
Ensure that your pool has anti-entrapment drain covers.
These drain covers avoid entrapment hazards, which can cause your toddler to become trapped underwater.
For more information on this, please see our Pool Drain Safety page.
Make swimming fun and safe for those you care for.
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Empty water containers after each use
Don’t leave toddlers without adult supervision around filled buckets.
Be sure to empty any liquids from containers when they’re not in use.
Make sure kids wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water
Learn how to evaluate the best life jackets for your kids in the water.
Note: Water wings and floaties for toddlers are not acceptable substitutes for life jackets.
Most children are ready for lessons by their 4th birthday. For toddlers who are just learning to swim, we recommend parent-child lessons to encourage comfort around water.
As we mentioned in our Infant Water Safety page, the AAP recommends starting child/parent swimming lessons as early as 1 year old.
Over 350 children, with a majority being younger than 5, drown each year nationwide
Sadly, Black children are 5.5x more likely to drown than white children.
69% of children younger than 5 years old were not expected to be at, or in the pool, at the time of a drowning incident
Florida leads the country in unintentional drownings by toddlers younger than 4 years old
The state hit a 10 year high in child drownings in 2021, with 98 deaths. This is up from 69 deaths in 2020.
Pool Safety 101
The ZAC Foundation was established to prepare children and families for a lifetime of water safety. The organization works to strengthen pool safety legislation and fund advocacy, education, and effective programming surrounding water safety. Zachary’s memory is the inspiration for the Foundation’s mission and activities.