Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and experts believe there is much more parents should be doing to prevent these tragedies.
“No one thinks that it’s going to happen to them,” said Chezik Tsunoda, whose 3-year-old son drowned in 2018. “It takes the amount of time to read and answer a cellphone message for your child to drown.”
As part of its reporting on the quality of lifeguard training, The Washington Post asked some of the country’s leading aquatic safety experts and groups for practical tips on protecting kids in the water. Many said parents need to think about water safety as a series of layers, rather than relying on a single solution that may be vulnerable to failure.
Before a child becomes a strong swimmer, their first protective layer in the water is always their parent or guardian. No lifeguard or flotation device will ever come close to protecting a child as well as an adult who is attentive, free from distractions and focused only on them, said Juliene Hefter, executive director and CEO of the Association of Aquatic Professionals, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit.
Here’s what Hefter and other experts recommend: