background shadows

Drowning Is Second Leading Cause of Death Among Children 1 To 4 Years of Age

For Immediate Release Contact: Ernest Landante, Jr.
June 17, 2015  609-292-0422

TRENTON - Seeking to help parents and guardians keep small children safe around water this summer, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) has produced a new video featuring important water safety information.

Video 1

The video is available to the public and for online sharing by visiting

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning causes more deaths among children 1 to 4 years of age than any other cause except birth defects.  Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths among children ages 1 to 14, trailing only motor vehicle crashes.

Seven children and youth drowned in New Jersey last year.  Two deaths occurred in the ocean, two in residential pools, and one in a residential pond.

"Adults must be vigilant when small children are near water, and under no circumstances, should a child ever be left unsupervised near water," said DCF Commissioner Allison Blake.  "It just takes a moment's distraction and very shallow water for a child to drown.  This water safety video will help parents and guardians keep children safe and make sure this summer is fun for everyone."

"It takes about two inches of water for a child to drown," said Dr. Puthenmadam Radhakrishnan, a pediatrician.  "You need to have constant supervision by adults at all times.  Whether the child is by themselves or with a group, it's very important that there always be an adult supervising this activity."

The CDC notes the primary factors affecting drowning risks are: lack of swimming ability, lack of barriers to prevent unsupervised water access, lack of close supervision while swimming, location of the body of water, failure to wear life jackets, alcohol use, and seizure disorders.

"It takes only 20 seconds for a small child to slip under the water without thrashing or yelling for help," said Nicole Bizuga, aquatics director for the Hamilton YMCA in Hamilton.  "Parents should always be in the pool and in arm's length of their child."

When visiting the beach with a small child, it's important to find a lifeguard, says Mike Tomaino, lifeguard supervisor with the Monmouth County Park System.

"Swim near a lifeguard and always keep small children in clear view and close so you can get to them if there's a problem," said Tomanio.  "Ask the lifeguard about water conditions and the best place where your child can enjoy the ocean safely."

DCF and New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents and caregivers follow several tips to help keep young people safe in and around water:

  • Never leave children swimming unattended. Drowning can occur in an inch or two of water.
  • Stay within an arm's length of small children in water to protect against rapid drowning.
  • Warn children to never swim at a pool or beach alone or without a lifeguard.
  • Train children to swim at an early age.
  • Teach children swimming in a pool is far different than swimming in open water.
  • Be certain only qualified and undistracted adults are entrusted with supervising children in water.
  • Always empty inflatable pools, buckets, pails, and bathtubs after each use.
  • Personal floatation devices do not guarantee water safety.

DCF has also produced a new poster listing these tips.  The Northeast Spa and Pool Association is distributing the poster to spa and pool retailers in New Jersey for display in their stores.

The new water safety video was produced with assistance from New Jersey Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, Monmouth County Park System, Monmouth County Public Information Office, Northeast Spa and Pool Association, Hamilton YMCA, Crystal Springs Family Aquatic Center, and the Pool and Spa Place.

DCF is dedicated to ensuring a better today and an even greater tomorrow for every individual the department serves. In partnership with New Jersey's communities, DCF ensures the safety, well-being, and success of New Jersey's children and families.  DCF funds and directly provides services and support to over 100,000 women, children, and families each month.