Top tips to help prevent drowning during Childhood Drowning Prevention Month in Illinois

Photo of Shepard Price

A float is pictured in a pool casting a shadow on the pool floor. 

A float is pictured in a pool casting a shadow on the pool floor. 

Chris Collins/Getty Images

May has been proclaimed Childhood Drowning Prevention Month in Illinois as water parks and pools begin to ramp up activity before reopening. This month serves as a good time to remind parents of the importance of constantly supervising children when they are in or near water to prevent the tragedy of accidental drowning deaths, the state wrote in a press release.

Last year, 18 Illinois children lost their lives due to accidental drowning, including eight in pools, three in bathtubs, two in lakes, two in ponds and one in a creek, river and hot tub. All eight children who drowned in pools were age 5 and under, the state found. 

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 14, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another eight children receive emergency department care for non-fatal drowning for every child who dies. 

“A child can drown in seconds, in silence and in as little as one inch of water,” Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc D. Smith said in a statement. “We can prevent the tragedy of childhood drowning by actively watching our children any time they are in or around water and practicing ‘reach supervision’ so an adult is always just an arm’s reach away from children in water.” 

To help protect children and prevent water-related tragedy due to accidental drowning, the state advises parents and guardians to follow these tips: 


  • Never leave a young child alone in a bathtub or rely on a bathtub seat for safety
  • Secure the toilet lid, as curious toddlers could tip headfirst into a toilet, risking drowning
  • Don’t allow children to play alone in the bathroom


  • Five-gallon buckets commonly used for household home-improvement projects pose a threat to babies and toddlers who may topple into them and be unable to get out
  • Empty and store all buckets out of children’s reach when not in use

Portable or Inflatable pools

  • A child can drown in as little as one inch of water, so continue to be aware around baby pools, despite the shallowness
  • Empty the pool right after use and store it upside down

Swimming pools and hot tubs

  • Keep ladders, patio furniture and toys away from above-ground pools, as toddlers are better climbers than you may think
  • Install a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas. Always check to make sure the gate is locked or closed when leaving the pool or spa 
  • Keep the pool and deck clear of floats, balls and toys after you leave the pool
  • Young children should wear personal flotation devices, but they do not replace adult supervision
  • Keep hot tubs securely covered when not in use, and children should not be left in a hot tub alone 
  • Appoint an adult who can swim to always watch children when they are in the pool 
  • Learn CPR and keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers by the pool. The American Red Cross offers online CPR training classes anyone can take at their own pace from home

Ponds, fountains and retention ponds

  • Be aware of access to water hazards in your yard and neighborhood. If a child goes missing, check these areas first.