two toddlers playing in a water feature safely

Toddler Water Safety

two toddlers playing in a water feature safely

Drowning is the leading cause of death in toddlers aged 1 to 4. Learn these basic toddler water safety tips from The ZAC Foundation to prevent injury and protect your children from life-threatening accidents or worse.

On average, more than 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.

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Swim lessons

By their 4th birthday, most children are ready for lessons. For toddlers who are just learning to swim, we recommend parent-child lessons to encourage comfort around water. As we mentioned in our Newborn Water Safety page, the AAP recommends starting child/parent swimming lessons as early as 1 year old.

Impulsive and fast-moving, toddlers have a higher drowning risk than any other age group

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Make sure kids wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water

This will keep your toddlers safe. Note: Water wings and floaties for toddlers are not acceptable substitutes for life jackets.

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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.

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

a toddler in goggles on a chair
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Create more barriers around pools, bathtubs, and natural bodies of water

Install a regularly inspected fence with a lock and key that goes around your pool, and keep the key out of reach of children.

For more information about creating layers of protection, please visit our Water Safety page.

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Ask grandparents to monitor your toddler

If grandparents are babysitting at the pool or lake, encourage them to be in the water with their grandchild 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.

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Install anti-entrapment drain covers to keep your toddler safe in a pool

It is critical to ensure that your pool has anti-entrapment drain covers in order to avoid entrapment hazards, which can lead to powerful suction from the water circulation system and can cause your toddler to become trapped underwater.

For more information on this, please see our Pool Drain Safety page.

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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.

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Florida leads the country in unintentional drownings by toddlers younger than 4 years old and is on pace to hit a 10 year high in child drownings in 2021

Florida has recorded 70 child drownings this year as of Aug. 30, and every year, enough children under the age of 5 drown to fill 3 to 4 preschool classrooms.

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.


people drown each year

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