Young children are at high risk of drowning because they can move quickly but do not understand danger. A baby or young child can drown in only 5 centimeters (2 inches) of water. Stay with children at all times when they are near water or in water. Young children most often drown in these water hazards:

  • bathtubs or hot tubs
  • ditches, ponds, sewage, lagoons, canals
  • rivers and lakes
  • swimming pools

Safety Tips to Prevent Drowning


  • Always stay right beside your child if under age five when he or she is in the bathtub. Do not leave him or her alone, not even for a few seconds.
  • Use a small baby bathtub to wash your baby. That way, your baby cannot slip beneath the surface of the water.
  • Do not use an infant tub seat.  A baby can drown if the seat tips over.

Hot Tubs:

  • Do not let children under five into a hot tub, not even with an adult.
  • Children can drown and they can also get sick. Water in a hot tub can have a high level of bacteria. The water may also be too hot for your child.
  • Cover your hot tub tightly when you are not using it. Your child should not be able to open the hot tub cover.

Water Hazards:

  • Check for water hazards near your home, such as ditches, sewage lagoons, rivers and ponds. Do whatever possible to keep your child safe from the water. For example, if you have a water hazard on your property such as a pond, put a high fence around it so that your child cannot reach it.
  • If you have a child under five, do not choose a vacation cottage or campsite that is right on the water.

Swimming Safety:

  • Children learn to swim at different ages. Your child always needs close adult supervision when he or she is swimming or playing in water.
  • Swimming and water safety lessons are important and useful. A good swimming program will teach water safety as well as swimming skills. Check with your local Parks and Recreation department for information on courses in your area.
  • Swimming lessons will not necessarily protect your child from drowning. Do not assume that your child will be able to swim without your supervision.
  • Hold on to your baby at all times in the water.
  • Do not use floating toys such as inner tubes or water wings in water that is deeper that your child’s knees. They give your child a false sense of security.

If you have a swimming pool, make sure that:

  • it is completely surrounded by a fence
  • check local by-laws for height requirements of the pool fencing. For example, in Stratford, a pool fence must be at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) high
  • the fence has a self-closing, self-latching gate
  • there is a wireless telephone nearby
  • safety equipment is close by, such as a life ring, rope, personal floatation device
  • at least one member of your family is trained in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Personal Floatation Devices

  • Make sure your child wears a personal floatation device at all times when he or she is in a boat or on a dock. Check the label to make sure that it is the right size for your child. The personal floatation device should also have a label that says it meets Canadian safety standards.
  • For extra safety, put your child in a personal floatation device every time he or she is near water – at the beach, on a dock or by swimming pools.

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