Accidental drowning is the leading cause of preventable death for kids under the age of 5

Babies, toddlers and children can drown when adults take their eyes off of them for as little as 20 seconds—even if they are nowhere near a pool.

Toddlers can wander into a retention pond behind a neighbor’s yard in the time it takes a caregiver to check the mail. Crawling babies can fall into a dog’s water bowl or a mop bucket while a parent is in the next room moving laundry from the washer to the dryer.

Drowning happens silently in as little as 20 seconds.

From 2013 to 2022, 97 local children – enough to fill a school bus – have died from accidental drownings in the Tampa Bay area.

Adult supervision is the best way to make sure children are safe near any kind of water. Kids often drown silently, and adults who are distracted may not notice that a child who can’t swim has fallen into the water.

Even one preventable child death is too many.

formal swimming lessons tip

Prevent Accidental Drownings

Take these steps to keep kids safe from accidental drowning:

  • Supervise at all times. Designate a “water watcher” who pays close attention while children are near water. Being distracted for even a few seconds can be a fatal mistake.
  • Be within arm’s reach. When infants and toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm’s reach providing hands-on supervision, meaning the adult is close enough to rescue the child if needed.
  • Never rely on floatation devices. There is no substitute for supervision – not even flotation devices, such as water wings, inner tubes, or even life vests. An adult should supervise children in the pool at all times.
  • Install a fence with a lock and self-closing gate around your pool. The gate prevents drowning by keeping kids from reaching the pool. Check existing pool fences for tears and damage – like a small tear that a child could fit through – that need to be repaired.
  • Install door alarms. Be alerted to times when a child in your home goes outside. Most children who drown in a nearby pond or pool were last seen inside the house, and parents or caregivers thought the children were napping or playing inside.
  • Fence your yard. Fencing provides an effective barrier between children in your home and bodies of water: ponds, lakes, canals or even drainage areas.
  • Be aware of hidden hazards inside your home. Children can drown in as little as one inch of water, meaning bathtubs, toilets and even pets’ water bowls pose a danger.

Take steps to prevent an accidental drowning from happening to your family.

drowning warning


Take advantage of cost-free water safety programs in your area. The Children’s Board of Hillsborough County’s Mobile Water Safety Team provides mobile swim, water safety and CPR classes at pools throughout Hillsborough County.
View the below video and brochure for more information on how you can be water smart.

Water Safety Is Key video:

Children’s Board of Hillsborough County Water Safety Brochure:



(Click photos to enlarge)