Water Watcher Cards Can Help Save Children's Lives

Armen Hareyan's picture

Safe Kids Worldwide is offering a free tool to help parents keep kids safe in and around water this summer, the most dangerous time of year for kids.

Drowning deaths among children ages 14 and under increase 89 percent in the summer over the average annual monthly rate, with 64 percent of all children's annual drowning deaths occurring in the summer months.

With the increased risks in mind, Safe Kids Worldwide has created the Water Watcher Card, which is passed between adults who take turns acting as the designated Water Watcher of children in or around water.


"Just like a designated driver is responsible for driving safely, the designated Water Watcher is the adult who actively supervises children to be sure they stay safe in the water," said Chrissy Cianflone, Water Safety Program Manager at Safe Kids Worldwide, the leading children's safety organization dedicated to preventing accidental injuries and deaths of children ages 0-14 years.

The Water Watcher Card is free and simple to use. Active supervision requires that the adult responsible for children not be engaged in any other poolside activities, including talking or reading. In set intervals -- 15 minutes is a good starting point -- the person holding the Water Watcher card becomes the Designated Watcher and must keep his/her eyes on the children. After 15 minutes, the card is passed to another adult, who then becomes the designated Watcher.

"It seems like a no-brainer, but when everyone is supposed to be watching, no one really is," Cianflone said. "If you're talking to someone, reading a book or eating a sandwich, you are not actively supervising. Even a few seconds of inattention can lead to disaster for children around water."

"Drowning occurs quickly and quietly," Cianflone said. "Children don't flail around and scream for help, like we see in the movies. They just slip silently under the water."

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child loses consciousness after only two minutes under water and irreversible brain damage occurs after four to six minutes of submersion. Even if the child is resuscitated after that time, he or she will likely suffer permanent brain damage. Most children who drown are found after approximately 10 minutes.