girl swimming underwater with goggles

Water Safety

girl swimming underwater with goggles

Drowning is silent, quick and 100% preventable, yet it’s a leading cause of injury-related death in children. The ZAC Foundation seeks to create a generational shift in how water safety education is discussed and shared between parents, children, and beyond.

General Water Safety Statistics

  • Each year in the U.S., an estimated 1,000 children have fatal drowning incidents. An additional 7,000 children end up in the emergency room annually because of a drowning scare.
  • While unintentional drownings have decreased steadily since 1985, there are still disparities in drowning rates depending on age, sex, and race and/or ethnicity.
  • After turning 1, male children of all ages are at greater risk of drowning than female children. 
  • African American children of all ages and caucasian boys aged 1-4 have the highest drowning fatality rates.
  • Racial disparities increase with age, such that fatal drowning rates in pools for African American teens are more than four times the rate of Caucasian children of the same age.
  • Lack of supervision and failure of  physical barriers were key factors in many of the fatal pool drownings 
  • Overall, 15‐17 year olds have more than twice the risk of a fatal drowning in natural water than those under 15 years, and boys ages 15‐17 are five times more likely to drown in natural water than girls of the same age.
  • Drowning is the most common cause of death from unintentional injury for people with epilepsy, and children with epilepsy are at greater risk of drowning, both in bathtubs and in swimming pools.

Drowning is silent, quick and 100% preventable. That’s why we emphasize following the A, B, C, & Ds of drowning prevention.

A for Adult Supervision

A is for Adult

Children should never have access to any form of water without an adult who has eye-to-eye contact with them.

B for Barriers

B is for Barrier

Barriers, like fences and gates, should restrict children’s access to all forms of water. Children need to know how important barriers are and their role in making sure that the barriers are in place.

C for Classes

C is for Classes

At the appropriate age, children need to take swimming lessons. Each family should discuss this with their pediatrician to decide when their child is ready for swimming lessons.

D for Drains

D is for Drains and Device safety

Pool drains are dangerous to all swimmers. Children should never swim near pool or hot tub drains. Children should be taught to tell an adult if they see a broken or loose drain cover and should NOT return to the pool until the drain cover has been replaced. Additionally, everyone should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on open water.

two girls playing in tube floaties in a pool

Pool Safety Checklist

To prevent instances of drain entrapment, the ZAC Foundation recommends that private pools follow the public pool requirements set forth in the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, which requires at least two layers of protection.

  • Dual drains
  • Safety vacuum release system (SVRS)
  • Suction-limiting vent system
  • Gravity drainage system
  • Automatic pump shut-off system
  • Drain disablement
  • Emergency pump shutoff system
  • Anti-entrapment drain covers
  • 4-sided fence with locking gate
  • Emergency telephone and life preserver in the pool area
  • Pool alarms on gates and doors leading to the pool area

Water Safety Tips By Age

Please see below for a breakdown of drowning prevention tips for every age.

newborn splashing in a pool held by an adult

Infants

Children ages 0-1

toddler in pool with arm floaties

Toddlers

Children ages 1-3

a girl in the pool

Grade School

Children ages 4 to 10

teen girl swimming underwater

Teens

Children ages 11 and up

0

people drown each year

Make swimming fun and safe for those you care about.

Sign up for emails about year-round water safety.