Saving Lives: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Childhood Drowning

Drowning is a significant and preventable cause of death among children, with children aged 1-4 being particularly vulnerable. According to a study by the CDC, drowning deaths in the United States have seen an alarming increase, with over 4,500 deaths annually from 2020-2022, indicating a rise in drowning rates compared to previous years.

Alarming Statistics

  • Drowning is the number one cause of death for children aged 1-4 in the United States, with the highest drowning rates among this age group.
  • The study found that almost 40 million adults (15.4%) in the United States do not know how to swim, and over half (54.7%) have never taken a swimming lesson.
  • Particularly concerning is the fact that 63% of Black adults and 72% of Hispanic adults reported never taking a swimming lesson.

Importance of Swimming Lessons

The study revealed a protective association between past participation in formal swimming lessons and the risk of drowning in children aged 1 to 4 years, indicating an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning among those with swimming lessons. This underscores the importance of swimming lessons in preventing childhood drowning.

Safety Tips for Parents


Proper supervision in the water is crucial to prevent drowning. It's important to maintain close, constant attention to children in or near water, especially for younger children and weak swimmers. Some key points to keep in mind regarding supervision include:

  • Avoid getting distracted with other activities, even if lifeguards are present.
  • Do not use alcohol or drugs around the water, especially when supervising others.

Water Safety Measures

  • For younger children and weak swimmers, it's essential to provide touch supervision by getting in the water with them.
  • Always keep children within arm's reach and never leave a baby or young child in or near any body of water under the care of another child.
  • Use life jackets when in, on, or near natural bodies of water, such as lakes or rivers, particularly for weak swimmers.

Community Programs and Resources

  • Enroll in swimming and water safety lessons available through companies such as Hudson Valley Swim who specialize in teaching students of any age and any level.
  • Find aquatic programs to meet your child’s specific needs to decrease reported barriers to swimming lessons.

It's imperative for parents to recognize the importance of swimming lessons in preventing childhood drowning. Supervision, water safety measures, and access to community programs and resources are key components in ensuring the safety of children around water. By implementing these safety tips and providing children with the opportunity to learn to swim, we can work towards reducing the alarming rates of childhood drowning and ultimately save lives.