'Drowning can happen in silence – without any splashing or screaming' – HSE issues water safety tips

Drowning can happen in silence – without any splashing or screaming.

This is the stark warning issued in the HSE’s new booklet My Child which has been released today.

As children all over Ireland settle into their summer holidays, the HSE advises that children should never be left alone near, with or in water.

Drowning is a leading cause of death in children, and can happen “in an instant and in a very small amount of water”, the HSE warns. And children who survive near-drowning frequently have long-term health effects from brain injury.

Water safety tips for your children:

  • Watch your child at all times as children can stray very quickly and fall into water.
  • Always make sure your child is within your sight and arm’s reach.

Water containers:

  • Use protective covers and fence off water collecting containers.
  • Watch your child at all times as they can wander very quickly.
  • Fence off man-made ponds, garden streams and open water areas.
  • Empty paddling pools immediately after use and store them in a locked shed.

Swimming aids

  • Make sure arm bands and other buoyancy aids have an approved safety standard mark (IS EN 13138 and the CE mark), fit properly and are appropriate for your child’s age and developmental stage.
  • Even if they are wearing an armband, your child will need constant adult supervision.

Bath Time:

  • Never leave your child alone at bath time, even for a second.
  • If you need to leave, bring your child with you. 
  • Always empty the bath as soon as you remove your child.


  • If you are near a swimming pool, be very careful. Make sure there is a locked gate or door separating your child from the pool. Even if the pool has a lifeguard, your child will still need parental supervision
  • Introduce your child to swimming as early as possible

The HSE’s mychild.ie books have been produced after consultation with 4,000 parents, and were developed by healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, midwives, psychologists, and dieticians.

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