Splashing in the shallow end is divine, but mere inches of water can be dangerous. Children 12 to 36 months of age have the highest risk of drowning, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). That said, there's plenty you can do to protect your child. Rather than rely on one of the strategies below, follow several, or all. Layering on safeguards ensures no slipups.
"Always be close enough to lay a hand on your child," explains Jeffrey Weiss, M.D., lead author of the AAP's latest policy statement on drowning prevention. Keep him within arm's reach when near water. Babies can drown in very little water, so be vigilant.
Beware inflatable pools
It's easy for a tot to lean over and tumble headfirst into these soft-sided water spots. Supervise carefully, empty smaller pools after use, and fence off large dunking pools.
Hit the books
Parents should have CPR and basic water-safety training, advises Connie Harvey, manager of aquatics technical development at the American Red Cross Preparedness and Health and Safety Services. Get trained through the American Heart Association (Heart.org) or the American Red Cross (RedCross.org).
Skip the floaties
Both the AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise against air-filled swim aids. They give a false sense of security and can easily be punctured or deflate.
Fence it in
Make sure your home pool is surrounded by four-sided fencing and a childproof gate, Dr. Weiss says.