More than 800 children drown every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Parents often assume they'll hear their child splash or cry if she falls into the water, but drowning is usually quick and silent. "Once a child's head goes underwater, it only takes a few minutes for her heart to stop and brain damage to occur," says pediatrician Gary Smith, MD, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio.
Do keep your toddler or preschooler within arm's reach whenever he's in or near water. Never let an older child out of your sight.
Don't get distracted when your child is in or near a pool or has access to any water.
Do equip your pool with four-sided fencing at least four feet high, a rigid cover, and anti-entrapment drain covers. Empty kiddie pools and remove ladders to above-ground pools after using.
Don't leave pool toys in the water or near the pool area.
Do learn CPR and keep a cell phone handy in case of an emergency.
Don't rely on arm floats or air-filled tubes to keep your child safe. Have her wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life preserver if she's on a boat or near water.