For millions of children, summertime means warm weather, summer camps, pools, and beach vacations.

The summer months may also bring an increase in the number of children in emergency rooms and trauma care units, particularly due to water injury. In fact, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children under the age of 14, with an estimated 1,100-1,400 deaths per year in the United States.

Learn more about Emergency Care at UPMC

Two-thirds of drowning deaths happen between May and August—prepare your family for summer with these safety tips.

RELATED: Swimming Safety for Kids and Parents

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Drowning Prevention Tips

  1. Up to 90 percent of drowning victims are within 10 yards of safety at the time of drowning. Ensure all young children are properly monitored.
  2. Small children should never be unattended around any body of water—pools, bathtubs, lakes, etc.
  3. Be aware of streams, creeks, ponds, ditches, and other small bodies of water on or near your property. Standing water left in buckets, wading pools, bathtubs, and toilets can be dangerous to toddlers.
  4. Water safety courses can help young children, but do not replace the need for supervision around water.
  5. Parents, guardians, and babysitters should be trained in CPR.
  6. Swimming pools should be enclosed by a four-sided fence that is at least 5 feet tall and separates the pool from the house. Pool fence gates should be self-closing and self latching. They should be located on the side of the fence closest to the pool and be out of reach for small children. Complete pool fence enclosures reduce drownings by 50 percent.
  7. Do not rely on pool covers to keep children safe. They are not an adequate way of keeping children out of the pool.
  8. All people in a boat or other watercraft should wear an approved personal floatation device.
  9. If you or your child are unable to swim or unsure of your swimming abilities, wear a floatation device anytime you’re around a body of water.
  10. Children’s “water wings” are not a dependable floatation device and not a substitute for adult supervision.

RELATED: When to Enroll Your Children in Swimming Lessons


  1. Zuckerman GB, Gregory PM, Santos-Damiani SM. Predictors of death and neurologic impairment in pediatric submersion injuries: the Pediatric Risk of Mortality Score. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998; 152(2):134–140
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. Prevention of Drowning. Pediatrics. 2010 Jul; 126(1):178-85. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-1264.
  3. Salujali G, Brenner RA, Trumble AC, Smith GS, Schroeder T, Cox C. Swimming pool drownings among US residents aged 5–24 years: understanding racial/ethnic disparities. Am J Public Health. 2006; 96(4):728–733
  4. Kane BE, Mickalide AD, Paul HA. Trauma Season: A National Study of the Seasonality of Unintentional Childhood Injury. Washington, DC: National Safe Kids Campaign; 2001
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nonfatal and fatal drownings in recreational water settings: United States, 2001–2002. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2004; 53(21):447–452
  6. Thompson DC, Rivara FP. Pool fencing for preventing drowning in children.  Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000; (2):CD001047. Review.

About Trauma & Emergency Medicine

Emergencies can happen in the blink of an eye or the beat of the heart. And when they do, seconds matter. UPMC’s emergency and trauma care services are ready to provide world-class care, no matter how serious your emergency. All our emergency departments have a full-time staff of emergency specialists at the ready 24 hours a day. We use advanced technology to diagnose and treat your condition and coordinate with your doctor to provide the best care possible. We also have specialized trauma care, including Level 1 trauma centers at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Mercy, a Level 1 pediatric trauma center at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, a Level 2 trauma center at UPMC Hamot, and a trauma center at UPMC Altoona.