Drowning Prevention in Teens

Pool safety image - Masterfile

Drowning is the second leading cause for death in young people up to the age of 24. Whenever your teen is going to be around water, remind him or her about these general water safety tips:

  • Never swim alone.
  • Learn how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and keep up to date on training.
  • Learn to be a confident and competent swimmer. (However, this does not prevent drowning or injury.)
  • Never walk on ice alone or without parent permission.

Safety at the Pool

  • Teach your teen never to dive into water less than 9 feet deep.
  • Make sure that rescue equipment and a phone are within easy reach.
  • Warn your teen about the danger of pool drains. Hair and other body parts (e.g., hands, feet) can become entrapped in malfunctioning drains, causing drowning.

Safety at the Lake, River, or Ocean

  • Allow your teen to swim only in designated swim areas and obey rules for diving.
  • Rely only on Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) and make sure your teen has the proper size PFD for his or her weight. Always wear a PFD when on board a boat of any kind (e.g., powerboat, sailboat, canoe, kayak).
  • Insist that your teen does not swim alone, even if a lifeguard is present.
  • Help your teen become aware of currents, riptides, undertow, changing weather patterns, and the dangers of swimming in very cold water.

Near Drowning

If your teen has a near drowning experience, contact your health care provider immediately—even if the child seems to be okay. Serious complications, including secondary drowning and others, are common.

Call 9-1-1 if any of the following symptoms develop in the minutes and hours after near drowning:

  • Breathing problems (shallow breaths, gasping, wheezing)
  • Bluish skin around the lips, cold skin, or pale appearance (after warming up from cool water)
  • Distended abdomen
  • Chest pain
  • Cough (may be accompanied by pink or frothy sputum) or vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Unusual behavior (irritability, confusion, restlessness)

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 28 Aug 2015