Splash Course: Kids and Drowning

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on August 12, 2013 and was written by Shaleek Wilson. View the full feature article and more at choc.org/health.

CHOC_08-13-2013_drowning_halfBathtubs and Buckets

A common misconception about drowning is that kids are only in danger in big bodies of water. Not true. It only takes 1 inch of water for a child to drown, making common household containers like buckets, bathtubs and large pet water bowls a hazard.

To Avoid a Life-Threatening Incident, Make the Following a Habit:

  • Never leave a child alone in the bathroom, not even for a minute
  • Empty containers with liquids
  • Close bathroom doors and install child-proof door locks
  • Keep toilet seats closed or locked

Water Safety 101

When school is out, there’s nothing children love more than to splash around in the pool. But before the fun begins, safety should come first. “If you’re a parent, you need to be trained in CPR,” says Dr. Anas. Whenever your child is in the water, assign a “Water Watcher,” to monitor the water and the child.

Floaties and Fences

Flotation devices are not a substitute for watchful eyes. If a child cannot swim, they’re at risk for drowning, says Dr. Anas. More than 1,000 children die each year from unintentional drownings.

Pool owner safety:

  • Install a four-sided, non-climbable fence with self-latching gate
  • Use pool covers; power-operated options are best
  • Alarm doors and windows leading to pool

Look Out!

Known as the “silent killer,” drowning happens quietly, quickly, and usually out of sight. When your child is in the water, someone should always be assigned to watch. “What frequently happens is someone watching a child gets distracted and the child wanders off into the pool,” says Dr. Anas. “By the time the caretaker notices, it’s too late.” Make sure you and your child’s caregiver are aware of potential pool hazards.

Fast Facts

  • The time it takes for a child to lose consciousness after water submersion: 120 Seconds
  • Percentage of drowning victims who are out of their caregiver’s sight for 5 minutes or less: 75%
  • Percentage of children who drowned aged 4 and younger: 46%


Dr. Nick Anas
Dr. Nick Anas
CHOC Children”s Pediatrician-in-Chief


Dr. Anas is CHOC’s Pediatrician-in-Chief. He serves as clinical Professor for Pediatrics for the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles and as Associate Clinical Professor, Pediatrics, at UCI School of Medicine. He completed a fellowship at the University of Rochester in Pediatric Pulmonology and Critical Care. Dr. Anas’ philosophy of care: “There’s no place for ‘good’ or ‘average’ care. Families in our community have to be able to go to sleep at night knowing their children are safe.”

West Virginia University School of Medicine

Pediatric Critical Care and Pediatric Pulmonology

More about Dr. Anas


Learn more about Drowning Prevention and Emergency Services at CHOC Children’s.

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