Water Smart Babies Prescription

Drowning has been the leading cause of death for children between the ages 1 – 4 years in Collier County. There have also been a significant number of non fatal drowning in Collier County which can lead to mechanical breathing support and permanent neurologic damage.  This campaign is designed to alert parents to the layers of protection needed to prevent these avoidable tragedies – dedicated adult supervision, teaching water safety to children at a young age,  and implementing barriers such as gates, locks and alarms.  The Florida Pediatric Society has endorsed the Water Smart Babies booklets and, on April 5, 2011, Collier County became the second county  in the state to launch the program.

For Pediatricians:

Give out the Water Safety Booklets routinely at the 9 month visits and at any other subsequent well visit where you feel the parent could benefit from having the information. Remember: drowning is the leading cause of death for children 1-4 in Collier County and the State of Florida.

Let the parents know that the booklet contains the local numbers for certified aquatic facilities that teach water safety lessons as well as organizations that teach CPR. The www.safehealthychildren.org website also has some short youtube videos on how to properly administer CPR.

Use the booklet to initiate the following points:

1. Don’t forget to ask about water hazards at other residences where the child may be cared for (sitter, grandparent). Some of these hazards include pools,  lakes, koi ponds, ditches, canals, fountains, hot tubs, inflatable kiddie pools, multigallon buckets, or aquariums. Give extra copies of the water safety booklet to parents so they, in turn, can distribute them to the other caregivers of their child.

2. Don’t forget to ask about water hazards in the neighbors yard. Conversely if one of your families has a pool with proficient swimmers remember that the neighbor’s children might not be as proficient so barriers need to remain in place.

3. Remind parents/ grandparents that if a child can not be found, CHECK THE POOL FIRST. Timely intervention of CPR is critical. Seconds count.

4. Remind older children to NEVER SWIM ALONE. A grown up must always be physically present/ watching before entering the water.

5. Water safety and swimming are skills that need to be learned and then re-learned. Water Safety lessons do not drown proof a child. Often times a series of classes are required before skill proficiency develops.

Sign and date the Water Safety Prescription. This places added emphasis on the importance of the family pursuing water safety or CPR lessons. REMEMBER: THE PRESCRIPTION IS NOT A COUPON FOR FREE OR DISCOUNTED SAFETY LESSONS.  Parents may qualify for financial assistance at the various aquatic facilities. Forms for financial assistance can be found at www.safehealthychildren.org/collier-county-swimming-lessons/

If you have additional phone numbers (dentists, specialists) or information you wish to write down for the parent, consider using the “Notes” section on the back of the booklet to place these numbers. This adds “value” to the booklet and might encourage the parent to utilize it for a longer period.

If you need additional booklets, please contact Dr. Vedder at 239-262-8226 and we will arrange for delivery directly to your office. Booklets will also be available at most NCH Department of Pediatrics meetings.

Notify Dr. Vedder if you have ideas on how to make the booklets even more effective for your patients.


For Parents:

Ask your pediatrician for a Water Safety Booklet when your child is starting to get highly active and mobile (usually around 9 months)

Take action before tragedy strikes.

  • Empty, lock or seal any indoor/outdoor containers that can hold large amounts of liquid such as aquariums, multigallon buckets, water coolers, kiddie pools.
  • Install alarms on doors and windows that lead out to a pool, lake or ditch.
  • Install baby barrier gates that prevent access to the pool from the house.
  • Install proper fencing to prevent neighbor children from accessing the pool outdoors.
  • Inspect to make sure all gates or screen doors leading to the pool close and latch properly. Do not prop open!
  • Make sure proper drain covers are installed on your pool or grandparent’s pool to avoid entanglement or entrapment.
  • Locate the rescue equipment (just like you look for the exits on an airplane before take off) before your child swims.
  • You are not overstepping your bounds as a parent, to ask relatives or baby sitters who care for your child to install door alarms and baby barrier gates around their pools. If they refuse or say “I will never take my eye off them,” think twice about sending your child to that residence.

Call a certified aquatic facility or instructor that teaches water safety lessons. These numbers are in the booklet and also can be found on the Coalition website www.safehealthychildren.org. These lessons are not free, but most programs have financial assistance/ scholarship programs if you present the necessary information. Forms for financial assistance can be found on the Coalition’s website: www.safehealthychildren.org/collier-county-swimming-lessons/

Take the prescription booklet with you to the aquatic center to help us track the success of the program

Also call to get trained on how to perform proper CPR. Basic CPR information is also included in the booklet and youtube videos are available for viewing online at the Coalition website

Just because a child has had water safety lessons, this does not make them drownproof.  There should always be a dedicated adult water watcher whenever children are in the pool. No texting, no phone calls, no distractions.

If your child ever goes missing, CHECK THE POOL (or other nearby water hazard) FIRST!

Notify your pediatrician if you have ideas on how to make the booklets even more effective for parents such as yourself.


For Pool Operators/ CPR trainers:

Fax prescriptions brought to your facility to the Safe & Healthy Children’s Coalition at 239-552-7779

If the parents did not bring a prescription, ask parents how they heard about the water safety/CPR  lessons. Keep a log of this since the Safe & Healthy Children’s Coalition wants to track the effectiveness of the program.

Also keep a log whether your facility has needed to expand the number of lessons or train additional instructors.

Notify the Safe & Healthy Children’s Coalition by calling 239- 624-4033  or emailing info@safehealthychildren.org  on ways to improve the water safety booklets to make them more effective for parents and for your facility.

Please emphasize the acquisition of developmentally appropriate water safety skills in every class involving young children. Pediatricians love to get  positive feedback from parents whose monetary investment yielded potentially life saving skills for them and their child.

Please notify us right away if you have changed your facilities contact info, start offering water safety lessons at a younger age; etc. We want to keep the booklets as relevant as possible for as long as possible.

Click here to download a copy of the Water Smart Babies Booklet Guide

Leave a Reply