Swim Safety

The Drowning Prevention Coalition of Palm Beach County exists to prevent drowning, near drowning and other waterrelated incidents. Water is a fantastic resource but it also poses a fantastic threat. These hazards are avoidable with proper education, responsibility and action.

Think about the following questions:

1. Can your child roll over, float on his/her back, and yell for help?
This is the most important technique children can use to protect themselves from drowning while alerting others to their danger.

2. Does your child take refresher swimming classes every year?
apidly changing skills, different levels of development, and a limited attention span require that a child's swimming abilities be continually updated.

3. Can you resuscitate your child?
All care givers (parents, grandparents, babysitters, etc.) must learn First Aid/CPR.

Did You Know?

  • From January 1999 through December 2001, 29 children ages birth to 18 years drowned in Palm Beach County.
  • 32% of the individuals who drowned in Palm Beach County pools between 1/99 and 12/01 were children between the ages of birth and 4 years.
  • 77% of children under 5 years of age who drown were last seen in the home, had been missing from sight for less than 5 minutes and were in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning.
  • 18% of individuals that drowned in 2001 in PBC were adults over the age of 35, these drowning deaths were not the result of a motor vehicle crash.
  • 27% of the individuals who drowned in PBC in 2001 drowned in the ocean.
  • For every 1 child who drowns, 4 others are hospitalized for near-drowning and as many as 3 suffer brain damage.
  • 15% of the children surviving a near drowning incident suffer severe and permanent disability.
  • Typical medical costs for a near drowning victim can range from $75,000 for initial emergency room treatment to $180,000 a year for long-term care.

The Do's and Don't of Water Safety:


  • Teach children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible.
  • Teach yourself water safety, rescue and swimming skills.
  • Appoint a "designated-water watcher" to monitor children during social gatherings at/or near bodies of water.
  • Always brief babysitters on water safety, emphasizing the need for constant supervision.
  • Keep rescue equipment accessible at pool side and post CPR instructions.
  • Invest in layers of protection for backyard pools such as: installing doors and windows that exit to a pool area with alarms and fencing with self-closing latches.
  • Maintain constant visual contact with children in a pool or pool area.
  • Install a poolside phone, preferably a fully charged cordless model, with emergency numbers programmed into the speed dial.
  • If a child is missing, check all sources of water near home first; seconds count in preventing death or disability.


  • Don't rely on swimming lessons, life preservers or other equipment to make a child "water safe." There is no substitute for supervision.
  • Don't leave a child alone in a body of water (tub, pool, etc.), two seconds is too long--let the phone ring.
  • Don't allow children to push playmates, jump on others, "dunk" one another, dive or jump in shallow water.
  • Don't leave objects, such as toys that might attract a child, in the pool or pool area.
  • Don't use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
  • Never prop the gate to a pool area open.
  • Never assume someone else is watching a child in a pool area.
  • Don't leave chairs or other items of furniture where a child could use them to climb into a fenced pool area.
  • Don't think you'll hear a child who is in trouble in the water; drowning is a silent death, with no splashing to alert