LAFD Water Safety and Drowning Prevention

Monday, May 15, 2023
small girl appears to be drowning at the side of a pool
Approximately 800 people currently require long term care in California for permanent disabilities caused by non-fatal drownings.

Drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death among children ages 1-4. On average, nearly 400 children drown in pools and spas annually across our Nation.

Many people do not realize that drownings happen quickly and are often "silent." Rarely is a person drowning seen splashing and waving their arms, "as seen on TV." They will quietly slip below the surface and if no one is watching, their chances of survival are slim.

However, this is an entirely preventable tragedy if you just follow 7 simple steps to keep your family water safe:

1. Constant Supervision

  • Have a designated "Water Watcher" ensuring children are never left unattended.
  • No one of any age should swim or use the spa alone.
  • Have a charged phone close by at all times.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool or spa first.
  • Have life-saving equipment such as life rings or reaching poles readily available for use.

Life saving ring and reaching pole on a wall

2. Proper Fencing: Install a fence at least four feet high, or compliant with local regulations, around the entire perimeter of your pool and/or spa.

Safety gate shown with pool in the background

3. Pool and Spa Safety Covers: Keep covers in good working condition. For safety sake, always use and secure them properly.

4. Door, Gate and Pool Alarms:

  • Use self-closing and self-latching gates. 
  • Install an alarm on the door leading from the house to the pool.

5. Safety Drain Covers:

  • Ensure any pool or spa you use has regulation compliant drain safety covers.
  • Know the location of the pump safety shutoff switch for the pool and/or spa.

6. Swimming Lessons: Once of the most important steps you can take to prevent children from drowning is ensuring they know how to swim.  Free to low-cost swimming lessons are available at recreational facilities across Los Angeles. Find the Learn-To-Swim class nearest you for more information.

Row of children showing kicking feet in pool while learning to swim

7. Learning CPR as a family:  Every second counts in an emergency and providing CPR while the fire department is on their way can make all the difference. Hands-Only CPR is simple to learn in just a few minutes.

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