Water Safety

by Great Falls Clinic Pediatrics

Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4?  At this age-range, children tend to be adventurous and love to explore, but they do not yet understand that water may not be safe.

In Montana summer activities involve a lot of contact with water as we enjoy boating, fishing, floating, swimming, camping, at or around the many lakes, rivers, and swimming pools in the state.

As a parent, how can you keep your child safe?

  1. Talk to your children about safety around water and teach them not to be alone, without adults, around large bodies of water.
  2. Always have an adult supervising and within arm’s reach of your young child. This person should not be distracted by cell phones, alcohol, or other activities. One thing I recommend is that parents tap out when they need a break, and not just assume that someone else will be watching the children.
  3. Life jackets for young children or non-swimmers around large bodies of water and on any water-craft have been shown to be the best protection from drowning.
  4. Teenagers and older children are not reliable caretakers of young children around water. They can be easily distracted or not know how to act in case of an emergency. Therefore, only competent adults should supervise young children.
  5. Have a buddy system for older children so that someone else knows where your child is, and what they are doing. Emphasize that they should tell you when they leave the immediate family group.
  6. If you have a swimming pool at home, ensure that it has a fence that is at least 4 feet high, with a self-locking, outward-facing gate to prevent access. Always empty inflatable pools as soon as you’re done with the activity.
  7. Swimming lessons for children who are developmentally ready can be beneficial, especially for older children. In addition, life-saving skills like CPR can save a child’s life.

For more information on water safety, please visit:  or

Have fun this summer while keeping your children safe! What or where are some of your family’s favorite water related activities?