Summer Is Coming: Water Safety Best Practices For Children

The parents of a two-year-old girl filed a wrongful death lawsuit against their babysitter and her family.

On May 12, 2022, the child's mother dropped the child at the babysitter's home. The plaintiffs allege the babysitter's family had been doing work in the backyard, near the pool and the deck, and were repeatedly entering and exiting the back door of the house.

Around 5:00 p.m. that day, the toddler was unsupervised and exited the back door, left open by defendants.

The child went onto the deck, climbed a planter in the back corner of the deck to the top, went over the deck railing, and fell into the pool. The child flailed and then sunk. Defendants had backyard cameras that captured the events. 

It was minutes later, the plaintiffs allege, that the defendants noticed that the child was missing and started searching for her around the property and neighborhood. They used a pool net to search the bottom of the pool because the water was murky, but they didn't find anything.

Approximately 30 minutes later, the defendants actually entered the pool and found the child's body at the bottom, according to the allegations. They removed the child's body from the pool and attempted to administer CPR. Then, they called 911. The child was rushed to the hospital, but was pronounced dead the following day. Alexis Tarrazi "Parents Sue Babysitter After Toddler Drowns In Pool In Franklin" (Feb. 26, 2024).

Commentary and Checklist

This tragedy involved a private babysitter in a home; however, many organizations that provide childcare or day camps offer water recreation or sports.

Because drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages one to four, it is important for those caring for young children to have water safety policies, procedures, and training. "All it takes is 10 seconds and a couple of inches of water" for a small child to drown.

Although the above incident was a swimming pool, drowning can occur in a kiddie pool or even in an ornamental water feature at a park. 

What can adults who care for children do to help keep them safe from water accidents?

·      Supervise children at all times when they are using, are near to, or could access, water or water features.

·      Supervision means an adult is always observing the child, not looking away for even a few seconds.

·      Keep water features, like pools, fenced and gated, with alarms indicating access. Make sure pool drains are covered.

·      Even large buckets full of water used for cleaning tasks pose a drowning threat to small children. Keep them emptied and stored. Close toilet lids.

·  Provide, and require, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training and certification for employees who care for children.

·  Require employees to demonstrate swimming and life-saving skills.

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