Child drownings in swimming pools: four tips to avoid dramatic accidents

The wave of heat and good weather will spread over the country in the coming days. If we can be happy about it, unfortunately statistically the heat increases the risk of drowning. This Saturday, 7-year-old boy found unresponsive in a private swimming pool in Pont-de-Chéruy (Isère), and in Gironde, a 3-year-old child is in serious condition after being found unconscious at the bottom of his parents’ swimming pool, in Latresne. On our territory, accidental drownings are responsible for about 1,000 deaths every year. Nearly half take place during the summer period, including 4% in supervised bathing areas (public or private).

The dangers of private swimming pools have been known for a long time. The need for prevention and education on the issue is more necessary than ever. “Everyone is at risk of drowning, even a person in good physical condition, already explained last year to the Parisian Aymeric Ung, specialist in the matter at Public Health France. “Most drownings are preventable, with simple and pragmatic actions,” he ures us.

Go in the water with them

Private family swimming pools, the scene of many accidents, particularly among children under six, must be given special attention. “Rule number 1 is to go in the water with your children. In a private swimming pool, you must explain the safety rules to the children, such as never approaching without an adult. Even a child who manages in the water, something can happen to him. Parental supervision is vital,” confirms Roxana Maracineanu, ex-world swimming champion who today organizes aquatic ease courses for 3-6 year olds in Ile de France with its ociation “I can’t have a swimming pool”.

Teach them to float on their own

“Acclimatization to the aquatic environment is just as important. Knowing how to float is not done when you arrive in a holiday home. It is done upstream ”ures the former Minister of Sports. “The essential thing is training. It is better to train without flotation equipment. You have to make the child understand that he is able to float on his own,” explains the specialist trainer.

Close the gate every time

Another essential gesture for the swimmer: “Always close behind either the pool enclosure or the protective barriers. 80% of safety comes first from the transmission of this kind of information to the children”, underlines the one for whom the training of the parents is as important as the information of the little ones. Clearly, we close the roller shutter, the barrier or we activate the alarm of the buried swimming pool (the presence of at least one of these devices has been mandatory since 2006) each time we get out of the water.

Empower adults

“Children are very attracted to water, so adults really need to do the work,” she says. “Adults always have to be held accountable. The identification of an adult who must accompany them to the swimming pool to supervise them is a good thing,” notes Roxana Maracineanu, hammering that access to the swimming pool should not be done alone for a toddler.

VIDEO. The “Carava’nage”, the traveling swimming pool to teach children how to save themselves from drowning

This is also the case in above-ground swimming pools, which we imagine to be less dangerous. “They are just as good, the children manage to go up, but not to go down, and switch to the other side. My message is clear: when we are not there, we remove the ladder”, also explains the emergency physician Vincent Bounes.

In addition, since 2019, the government has launched a system intended to promote the learning of swimming by the youngest, through the “aquatic ease” program for 4-6 year olds (70,000 child beneficiaries in 2022) and the swimming skills program for 6-12 year olds, to guarantee each child the acquisition of fundamental sports knowledge essential to their development, their health, their autonomy and their safety.

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