Water Safety and Teens

If children and adolescents are around bodies of water on a regular basis, parents should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which, in case of an emergency, can save lives, reduce the severity of injury, and improve the chance of survival. CPR training is available through the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and your local hospital or fire department.

Teens and water safety

Although older youth are more likely to know how to swim, they are at risk for drowning due to overestimation of their skills, lack of awareness of water currents or water depth, and consuming alcohol or using drugs. To protect your adolescent from drowning, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips:

  • Insist that your adolescent always swim with a buddy.

  • Encourage your adolescent to take swimming, diving, and water safety or rescue classes to give him or her the skills needed to swim and dive safely. These classes may also prevent your adolescent from acting recklessly.

  • Teach your adolescent never to swim or dive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Make sure your adolescent checks the depth of the water before diving.

A warning about diving

Diving accidents can result in permanent spinal cord injuries, brain damage, and/or death. Diving accidents may occur when a person:

  • Dives into shallow water.

  • Dives into above-ground pools, which are usually shallow.

  • Dives into the shallow end of a pool.

  • Springs upward from the diving board and hits the board on the way down.

A warning about personal flotation devices (PFD)

On boats, PFDs should be U.S. Coast Guard-approved. In fact, many states require the use of PFDs on all boats at all times. Blow-up swimming devices, such as "water wings," rafts, toys, and other items are not considered safe and should not be relied on to prevent drowning.

It is important that the PFD is the correct size for your adolescent (life jackets are usually labeled "adult" or "child"). However, PFDs do not replace adult supervision.

According to the CDC, 90 percent of people who died in boating-related drownings were not wearing any kind of floatation device.

Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Roux, Susan L., ARNP
Last Review Date: 4/14/2013
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