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Guide to Drowning Prevention

Florida Department of Health in Seminole County Environmental Health

Supervision is the key to preventing child drowning. However, because many of the victims were last seen inside the home in an area that was considered to be safe, the following additional Layers of Protection are recommended.


Install and maintain an isolation fence that completely separates the swimming pool/spa from the house and play yard. The enclosure should have four sides with a minimum height of 5-feet and a maximum of 4-inches between the bars.

  • Gates should also be a minimum of 5-feet with the same spacing as the fence. Gates should be self-closing, self-latching, and open away from the pool. NEVER leave gates propped open.

  • The pool or spa should always have well-maintained "layers of protection" such as door alarms, certified pool safety covers, and self-closing, self-latching doors which lead to the pool/spa.


  • Teach pool safety rules to all family members and babysitters. Emphasize the need for constant supervision.

  • Keep toys, tricycles and other children's play things away from the pool or spa areas.

  • NEVER leave a child unsupervised in or near any body of water even for a second!

  • Don’t rely on "water wings" or any flotation device to keep your child afloat. They are not fool proof and no substitute for supervision.

  • NEVER consider your child "drown-proof" even after swimming lessons. Swimming lessons are no substitute for supervision by a responsible adult.


  • A poolside telephone is an essential part of a safe pool environment. Many drowning occur when a caretaker leaves a child alone to answer a telephone call. Install a phone, or keep a cordless phone in the pool or spa area.

  • Learn how to give CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), first-aid and other lifesaving practices to adults and children.

  • Teach family members and babysitters how to contact local emergency medical services. Post CPR, safety instructions, and the 911 emergency phone number in an easy-to-see place.


  • In Florida, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in and around the home for children under the age of 5.

  • A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child who is 4 years old or younger.

  • 75 percent of the children involved in swimming pool submersion or drowning accidents were between 1 and 3 years old.

  • 77 percent of the swimming pool accident victims had been missing for five minutes or less when they were found in the pool drowned or submerged.

  • Of the preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the accident.

  • Of preschoolers pool drowning, 65 percent occur in the child’s home pool and 33 percent at the homes of friends, neighbors, and relatives.

  • Nearly 50% of the child victims were last seen in the house before the pool accident occurred. An additional 23% of the accident victims were last seen on the porch or patio, or in the yard.

  • Of children surviving near-drowning, 5 to 20 percent suffer severe and permanent disability.

The best way to reduce child drowning in residential pools is for pool owners to construct and maintain barriers (fences, gates) that would prevent young children from gaining access to pools and spas.

However, there are NO SUBSTITUTES for diligent Supervision.

Visit this site for more information on how to "drown-proof" your child: