Updated 11 November 2013

Tips to prevent drowning

Thousands of South Africans drown every year. Follow these tips to make sure that this doesn't happen to you.


Thousands of South Africans drown every year. Follow these tips to make sure that this doesn't happen to you.

  • Always supervise children near water, even buckets of water or fish ponds – as little as five centimetres of water could pose a risk for a small child. Because of the disproportionate weight of their heads, toddlers can easily topple over and find it difficult to lift their heads to breathe.

  • Never leave a child under four alone in the bath, even for a second. If you need to leave the room, wrap your child in a towel and take her with you. Pull out the plug once you are finished.

  • Ensure that everyone in the family knows how to swim. Swim lessons for children under four should not be seen as a way to decrease the risk of drowning. Young children should always wear approved life vests (inflatable rings and water wings are not effective). Make sure that the vest fits snugly and is comfortable. Remember that they are only swimming aids, not life preservers.

  • Fence off your pool and preferably use a pool net as well. Get a lockable cover for jacuzzis or sunken baths. Remove the ladder of above-the-ground pools after use. Don’t leave toys in and around the pool when not in use as children may be tempted to retrieve them. Don’t install a diving board. Never allow anyone to dive head-first into pools which are less than 2.5 m deep.

  • When at the beach, only swim in designated areas and if a lifeguard is on duty. Don’t stand with your back towards the water as a sudden wave could knock you over; if you are caught in a current, swim parallel to the shore or tread water until help arrives.

  • No-one, not even adults, should swim alone or when intoxicated.

  • Attend a CPR class and make sure that your childminder knows first aid and rescue methods.
    - (Photo of baby in swimming pool from Shutterstock)

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