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Myths and facts on drowning that every parent needs to know

Sean M Cleary AttorneyBy Sean M. Cleary, Attorney, The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary

Guest Blogger

Some parents already know the importance of swimming safety, especially for young children. Unfortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the reality is, one in five people who die from drowning is under the age of 14.

Some swimming injuries and accidents are caused by myths about drowning that parents believe. If a drowning victim survives, he or she may suffer from long-term disabilities such as learning disabilities or loss of basic bodily functions. No one ever expects it but tragedy can strike anytime.

Here are some common misconceptions on water safety that create a false sense of security and could lead to drowning:

Myth 1: I will hear my child crying, screaming, and struggling in the water in time to help.

The truth is drowning isn’t noisy. It's silent and can happen in just a matter of seconds. Children don't have the ability to figure out what to do when they’re in trouble. As a result, there can be very little splashing, waving, or screaming and they just slip away in silence. The misconception that you will hear your kids struggling really endangers them.

Myth 2: Nothing bad will happen if I leave my child alone in a pool for a couple of minutes.

Drowning happens fast. The fact is kids are very active while they are in the water and once a child begins to struggle, you may have a few seconds to react. Because drowning is quick, keep young children within an arms’ reach at all times and keep your eyes on them. Make sure older children swim with a partner and ask them from time to time if they’re okay.

Myth 3: If my child can swim, he or she isn’t at risk of drowning.

Parents shouldn’t overestimate their child’s swimming ability. Learning how to swim builds confidence and teaches children to be more disciplined but each child’s swimming abilities are different. Swimming skills develop and improve over time. Make sure your child also develops water survival skills.

Myth 4: Once children learn to swim, they don't need life vests and won't wear them.

Each time young children play near or in the water or on a dock, make sure they wear life vests that fit, as wearing a life vest can buy time. Older children who are really good swimmers may not need to wear a life vest. Be alert and use judgment for your children when they’re in or around water. Around steep banks, rivers, or docks, where water conditions change and cold water makes life-saving and swimming skills difficult, the drowning risk increases, and rescue becomes much harder. You need to be prepared to help a child and life vests improve the chances of survival and rescue.

Be sure to consider this life-saving safety information. Prevention is the only way to avert many situations that can lead to drowning.


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Carol Cassara

This is such a public service. Thank you.


Hi Carol,

Yes, swimming safety is something parents should review every spring.

I also write about every spring about how cold the water is and how people, especially teens, need to be aware of how dangerous the water is at that time of year. People think because it's warm that the water is too, but it is not.



One thing I worry about is people with children who constantly have their noses in their phones. They aren't paying attention and it can be deadly.


Hi Rebecca,

That's a good point. Parents need to be watching their kids at all time around the water. Being on their cell phones is a big distraction, and they could lose track of their child with disastrous results.


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