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Avoid Drowning: Keep Kids Safe Around Water

Stay within arm's reach and never take your eyes off of young children in or near water

My kids, ages 2, 4 and 7, can’t wait to splash into the nearest pool. How can I help keep them safe around water?​

"Because children can drown in as little as an inch of water, an adult should actively watch them while they are in or near water," says Kelly Coleman, M.D., a board-certified specialist in Pediatrics at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. "Adults should stay within arm's reach when a child is under 5 years of age."

Dr. Coleman says children are usually developmentally ready for formal swimming lessons by age 5 years, but teaching them to swim does not guarantee their safety.

She offers these additional tips:

  • Don't use air-filled swimming aids, such as water wings, as a substitute for approved life vests.
  • Don't allow children to dive into water without an adult checking the depth and for underwater objects. Don't allow them to dive into aboveground pools.
  • Install a climb-resistant fence that completely surrounds your pool or home spa.
  • Empty blow-up pools after each use.


"If a child is found floating or submerged, start rescue breaths immediately, then remove the child from the water, holding their neck in a neutral position in case there's spinal injury. Call 911 for assistance," she advises.

"Children are naturally attracted to water and we need to be ever-vigilant to ensure a fun and safe summer," concludes Dr. Coleman, who cares for young patients at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic at The Vintage in northwest Houston.​

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Kelly Coleman, MD

I believe in explaining to parents the diagnosis and possible complications so that we can work together to keep their children healthy.​