Child drownings: how to monitor swimming?

Every summer, the long holidays are bereaved by the drowning of children, who very often intervene when the parents are not far away. A real danger, which does not yet seem to be integrated as such. Again, it must be repeated: the little ones, who are particularly vulnerable, must be subject to increased surveillance. Update on safety rules.

[Updated September 1, 2022] In France, accidental drownings are responsible for approximately 1,000 deaths each year (including approximately 400 during the summer period), making it the leading cause of death by accident in everyday life among people under 25 years old. A leader in the rankings that reveals how supervising children, even the biggest ones, requires extreme and uninterrupted vigilance. And all the more so since camping or hotel swimming pools are not subject to an obligation to monitor the pools, unlike public swimming pools. Swimming in the natural environment is no less dangerous: currents at sea or thermal shocks in high altitude lakes are all things to fear, especially since many of these spots have no lifeguards. Bathing children is the responsibility and caution of parents, Here's how to always be alert.

2021 drowning survey: 27% led to death, 49% in bodies of water

In 2021, the Drowning survey identified 1,480 accidental drownings, 27% of which resulted in death . Children under 6 accounted for 22% of accidental drownings and 6% of deaths. s. Regarding the places of drowning, 47% took place at sea, 26% in swimming pools, 23% in rivers or bodies of water and 4% in other places (bathtubs, basins, etc.) with a distribution of fatal drownings of 44%, 15%, 39% and 2% respectively. The proportion of deaths is higher in bodies of water (49%) and rivers (41%) while it is 25% at sea, 15% in swimming pools of all types and 14% in other places. The drownings in swimming pools concerned more young children. Compared to the previous survey carried out in 2018, the number of accidental drownings in 2021 is lower due to less favorable climatic conditions for swimming. If you're going on vacation by the sea, or taking the kids to the pool, summer is a time to remember the essential reflexes to avoid any risk of drowning.

Swimming at the beach: what precautions to take with children?

  • Never relax your vigilance. To the beach, watch your children at all times and always stay with them when they are playing by the water, or when they are swimming. Put away your smartphone and forget about it.
  • Also pay attention to monitor your child even when the body of water is minimal (bathtub, pond, large puddle) because a toddler can drown in 20cm of water.
  • C hoose bathing areas supervised by lifeguards , where the intervention of rescue teams is faster. Once again, their supervision should not replace that of the parents.
  • Their indications and their recommendations as to the temperature of the water, the violence of the current and the waves are also essential and each parent is invited to find out about the weather conditions before considering a swim. To do this, rely on the color of the flags (green, orange, red and black).
  • In case of nautical activities, pay attention to the tide times. Before taking your children on a fishing trip, find out beforehand the timetables and tide coefficients.
  • Don't forget to wet your head, neck, stomach and gradually enter the water to avoid thermal shocks
  • The European emergency number is 112 and the marine emergency number is 196.

Swimming in the pool: what recommendations?

  • If this is your own pool, do not invite too many children your house.
  • Vigilance is essential, especially on festive occasions, even in the presence of several people, where the trap is that everyone thinks that the other is watching the pool
  • Bathe at the same time as your children , or watch them constantly and closely
  • Do not be absent, even for a short time
  • Designate a single person responsible for monitoring so as not to rely on each other. Remember that in 68% of cases of drowning that took place in an inground family pool, a safety device had been installed (barrier, alarm, cover or shelter). It therefore appears essential to supervise children when swimming in the pool and to define a single responsible adult, at all times, to supervise the child, even if he has armbands.
  • Explain to your child the dangers of water and make sure he wears his armbands permanently (CE marking and NF 13138-1 standard) adapted to the size, weight and age of the child. Avoid buoys and other floating items (boats, mattresses, etc.) that do not protect against drowning .
  • When swimming, consider posing next to the pool: a pole, a buoy and a telephone to alert, if necessary, the emergency services as soon as possible.

'When the bath is stopped, as soon as the buoys are removed, dry the child and immediately take him out of the pool enclosure. Close the access. Nothing is more tempting for a child than to immediately plunge back into the water ' warn health professionals in ' The guide that protects children and infants of Harmonie Mutuelles.

What devices to secure your private pool?

Since 2003, the 'swimming pool safety' law, requires owners to install four devices:

  • approved barriers,
  • covers (floating or bar tarpaulins),
  • shelters (up or down)
  • pool alarms (in accordance with standard NF P90-307-1: 2009).

This safety device has greatly reduced the number of drownings among young children. However, even with these elements, active parental vigilance and supervision should not be reduced. If it's your pool, don't invite too many children to swim at the same time. Finally, when your little one is swimming, place a pole, a buoy and a mobile phone near the pool so that you can react quickly if necessary. If you have a swimming pool that is not buried in the ground, remember to remove the ladder after each swim in order to block access.

When and how to teach your child to swim?

Teach your child to swim from 6 years old as far as possible. By supporting him in the water, teaching him to do the plank, or enrolling him in lessons in a swimming pool. Summer is the perfect time to make them want to jump in the water , safely !

What is the Beach Tour organized this summer?

The Beach Tour is an operation on the initiative of the State service in charge of sport, which consists of a prevention village, erected all summer near the beaches of the Atlantic coast . On the program, awareness stands, rescue demonstrations, first aid workshops and an incentive to practice safe sports. In addition, the government has set up a plan for aquatic ease, intended for non-swimmers, set up for toddlers during school and extracurricular times with 8 sessions of 40 minutes. From 6 years old and up to twelve years old, children benefit from a free device of 10 one-hour sessions to learn to swim. Finally, a series of 7 tutorials for families , are carried out in a swimming pool. Parents can thus pass on to their child what they have learned to become familiar with the aquatic environment and feel safer in the water. Site Info