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Swim Safety for Kids

Swimming is a big part of what makes summer fun. But parents need to know that drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional, injury-related death for children under 15. Deep water in pools, rivers, lakes, and the ocean poses the most obvious danger, but any body of water is hazardous to a young child  -- including hot tubs, fountains, small streams, ponds, and wells.


How to Revive a Child

Remember the ABC's of lifesaving  -- Airway, Breathing, Circulation  -- to help guide you through cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).* CPR can save a child's life and reduce the risk of injury in near-drowning accidents. The sooner CPR is given, the greater a victim's chance of survival. Continue revival attempts until emergency help arrives.


1. If you find an unconscious or unresponsive child in or near water, have someone call 911. If you are alone, call 911 after attempting revival for one minute; then resume attempts.

2. If possible, start giving breaths immediately, even as you try to move the child to dry land. Whether or not the child is breathing, this will not hurt her.

3. Lay the child faceup on a firm surface. Tilt her head back slightly and lift her chin to open the airway. (If you suspect she dove into shallow water and has a spinal injury, try to open the airway by lifting her chin without tilting the head. Kneel behind her, place your index fingers behind her ears, slide them down to the jaw, then gently push up to thrust the jaw forward. Use your other fingers to keep neck stable.) Look, listen, and feel for breaths.


4. If you don't detect breathing, seal your lips around the child's mouth and pinch his nostrils shut.

5. Give two slow breaths (about 1 1/2 seconds each). The chest should rise; if it doesn't, reposition the child's head, extending his neck. Make sure you have a tight seal with your mouth. If the breaths do not go in, give up to five abdominal thrusts until the airway clears. To do this, straddle the child's legs. Position your hands just above the belly button with fingers pointed toward his head. Press into the abdomen with quick, upward thrusts.


6. Check for a pulse on the neck beneath the jaw.

If you feel a pulse: Continue giving one breath every three seconds. Remove your mouth between breaths. After one minute, check for a pulse again. If you continue to feel a pulse, continue the breathing pattern, checking for a pulse every minute.

If you don't feel a pulse: Begin CPR. With the child still lying faceup on a firm surface, imagine a line between his nipples. Use the heel of your hand to give compressions and increase the depth of compressions to 1 1/2 inches. Repeat cycle of five compressions to one slow breath. After one minute, check for a pulse. Continue the compression and breathing cycles, checking for a pulse every two minutes.

Sources: The American Red Cross; American Academy of Pediatrics; Angela Mickalide, Ph.D., program director National SAFE KIDS Campaign.

*This guide is not meant to be a substitute for proper CPR training, which is available from the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or your local hospital or fire department.