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Drowning Prevention: Top 5 Lifesaving Water Safety Tips for Your Family

Tampa Bay is a community that gives families year-round access to beaches and parks with ponds and lakes, and many families also have swimming pools. But with water, comes the danger for drowning, which remains the No. 1 preventable cause of death for children ages 1-4. Sadly, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, emergency center physicians at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital saw drownings on the rise, which could be attributed to stay at home orders and distracted parents working from home. Most notably, drownings doubled over March, April and May last year (2020) compared to the same months in 2018 and 2019.  Patrick Mularoni, M.D., an Emergency Center physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, shares the top 5 ways parents can protect their children as we head into spring and summer.

How can we protect our children from drowning?

More than 70 percent of drownings occur when the child was not expected to be at the pool, but for one reason or another, they are able to get to the pool unsupervised. The best way to protect our children is to think about pool safety in layers.

1. Caregiver awareness

If you are at home with your children, you need to know where they are and what they are doing. Most parents report that their child was only out of sight for a few moments when a drowning occurs. If you are out near the pool, you should be actively watching the kids, which means that you need to put away the cell phone.

Parents working from home is an added distraction. The combination of distracted parents trying to attend virtual meetings and get work done or just worried about their situation can cause them to lose sight of kids who may not see risks.

2. Measures inside the home

Every home should have childproof locks and an alarm that beeps when doors are opened. This is especially important for a door that could lead to a pool.

3. Measures outside the home

If you own a pool, you should install a fence that surrounds all four sides. That means that a door from the house does not open directly to the pool. Make sure that the four-sided fence has a gate that opens outward because this will help prevent a little one from opening the gate even if they pull up a chair.

4. Measures in the pool area

You should have other measures in the pool area. The most important is that you don’t leave toys or other objects floating around the pool. These are an invitation to children, who may reach for them and fall in.

5. Swim lessons

One of the best gifts you can give your child is teaching your children to swim. Formal swim lessons are also a great idea to improve skills.

For more information about drowning prevention at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, visit

About the Author: Dr. Mularoni specializes in sports medicine at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. He graduated from Michigan State University with an undergraduate degree in Biology from the Lyman Briggs College of Science. He completed Medical school at the American University of the Caribbean where he achieved honors in his third and fourth year clinical rotations at Ascension Health Hospitals in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Mularoni completed his Pediatric Residency at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, Michigan. His Fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine was completed in Atlanta, Georgia through Emory University. While at Emory University, Dr. Mularoni completed research on procedural pain reduction in the emergency setting and was awarded the American Academy of Pediatrics Willis Wingert award for best fellow research. He has continued conducting research at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hopsital looking at best practice for procedural sedation in reduction of Pediatric forearm fractures. His current research interests include concussion management and prognosis in patients with mild traumatic brain injuries. He is the chairman of the Medical Emergency Committee.

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