Almost 1,000 kids in the United States die from drowning each year—which is why on Friday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new water safety guidelines to help parents decrease the risk of drowning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of injury death for children ages one to four.
As a result, one of the new recommendations is that children start swimming lessons at the age of one-year-old to learn proper water safety. The organization adds that they should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times when in the water, as well.
However, in its updated Prevention of Drowning policy, the AAP warns parents that “even the best swimming lessons cannot ‘drown-proof’ a child.”
“Many of these deaths occur when children are not expected to be swimming or when they have unanticipated access to water,” author Sarah Denny, MD, FAAP, said in a news release. “Toddlers are naturally curious; that’s why we must implement other strategies, such as pool fencing and door locks.”
Along with putting up a four-sided fence around a backyard pool, parents are advised never to leave children alone in a bathroom or near open bodies of water. Additionally, whenever an infant or toddler is in the water, an adult who knows how to swim should always be within an arm’s length distance from them, providing what the AAP calls “touch supervision.”
And it isn’t just toddlers that are at risk. Teens are the second-highest age group most likely to be involved in a drowning-related death, with nearly 370 deaths of children ages 10 to 19 each year. Dr. Denny explained in the statement that “adolescents can be overconfident in their swimming abilities and are more likely to combine alcohol use with swimming – compounding their risk significantly.”