Basic water safety skills are essential. Swimming pools, lakes and rivers offer year-round fun if they are enjoyed safely. But every year about 160 people drown in Ontario. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children under five years old, and statistics show that children under 12, boaters, young men and seniors 65+ are at greatest risk.

Drowning is fast and silent, but every drowning death is preventable with water safety knowledge and common sense.

Important water safety tips for everyone:

• Learn to swim
• Always swim with a buddy
• Children and non-swimmers should always be supervised around water
• Wear a lifejacket whenever you are in a boat
• Alcohol and water don’t mix: don’t drink and swim, don’t drink and drive your boat


Most drowning victims among under 5-year-olds are 2 to 4-year-olds. Two to 4-year-olds are increasingly mobile as they progress through the toddler years. They are inquisitive and take advantage of their ever-expanding range and speed of mobility. They have no awareness of looming aquatic danger. It is up to parents and caregivers to protect them. Toddlers and children under 5 are at risk when they are playing near water – far and away the activity most involved in toddler drownings.

Private backyard pools present the greatest danger at this life stage, accounting for one-third of water-related deaths for young children under 5 years, although beaches and waterfronts on lakes and rivers also contribute.

By far the biggest risk factor for young children is lack of supervision from parents or caregivers. Almost all these young victims were alone when they became immersed in water. The lapse in attention may have been just a few moments, but it was fatal.

Drowning Prevention Tips:

If you’re not within arms’ reach, you’ve gone too far. Drowning is a silent killer and can happen 

in as little as 10 seconds. Parents and caregivers must be near (within arms’ reach) their children whenever they are near water. Stay tub-side until the water is drained and children are out of the tub. Most bathtub drownings occur because children are left alone “just for a moment.”

Restrict and control access to the water. Many toddlers who drown do so because they unexpectedly gained access to the water – the backyard pool, the lake or the bathtub. Typically, human error leads to a gate or door being left open or a lock unsecured. Layers of protection will reduce the chance of human error. If you can’t eliminate the water hazard, restrict access to it by fencing off natural or man-made bodies of water on your property and ensure that gates are self-closing and self-latching. Drain bathtubs when not in use, and empty unattended wading pools and buckets of water and turn them over.

Designate a backyard pool lifeguard.  An adult must always supervise children using a pool – in-ground, above-ground or wading pool. If one adult must be absent for a moment, designate a replacement or close the pool until someone can assume supervisory duties.

Wear a lifejacket. As an extra layer of protection, put toddlers in a lifejacket when they are near water. Lifejackets do not replace attentive supervision, but will keep a toddler at the surface – which may give parents the seconds they need to save a life.

Go to lifeguard supervised beaches and pools. For safer play near the water, take children to beaches and pools supervised by certified lifeguards. Lifeguards do not replace direct parental supervision but act as an extra layer of protection.

Parent & tot aquatic programs. A positive introduction to water can give your child a lifetime of pleasure swimming. Toddlers are particularly suited to get used to the water with their parents in an instructional setting.

Submitted by: The Lifesaving Society
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