May is Childhood Drowning Prevention Month: Illinois DCFS reminds parents to remain vigilant when children are in or near water

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[May 24, 2023] 

Governor JB Pritzker has proclaimed May as Illinois Childhood Drowning Prevention Month, reminding parents of the importance of constantly supervising children when they are in or near water to avoid the tragedy of accidental drowning deaths.

In 2022, 15 Illinois children lost their lives to accidental drowning: nine in pools, two in bathtubs, two in ponds, one in a creek and one in a lake. Seven of the children who drowned in pools were age 5 and younger.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 14. For every child who dies from drowning, another eight receive emergency department care for non-fatal drowning.

“There are simple steps parents and caregivers can take to prevent water-related tragedies, like ensuring pool gates are locked, teaching children to swim and never leaving a young child alone in the bathtub, even if they are in a bath seat,” said Illinois DCFS Director Marc D. Smith. “The single most important thing to remember is to always actively watch children any time they are in or near water, as a child can drown in as little as one inch of water.”

Follow these safety tips to help protect children and prevent water-related tragedy:


Never leave a young child alone in a bathtub or rely on a bathtub seat for safety.

Secure the toilet lid. Curious toddlers could tip headfirst into a toilet, risking drowning.

Don’t allow children to play alone in the bathroom.


Five-gallon buckets commonly used for household home-improvement projects pose a threat to babies and toddlers who may topple into them and be unable to get out.

Empty and store all buckets out of children’s reach when not in use.

Portable or inflatable pools

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because of the shallowness of baby pools. A child can drown in as little as one inch of water.

Empty the pool immediately after use and store it upside-down.

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Swimming pools and hot tubs

Keep ladders, patio furniture and toys away from above-ground pools.

Install a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas.

Keep the pool and deck clear of floats, balls and toys after you leave the pool.

Young children can wear personal flotation devices, but do not be lured into thinking these are able to prevent drownings.

Keep hot tubs securely covered when not in use. Children should not be left in a hot tub alone.

Appoint an adult who can swim to always watch children when they are in the pool.

Learn CPR and keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers by the pool. The American Red Cross offers online CPR training classes anyone can take at their own pace from the convenience of home.

Ponds, fountains and retention ponds

Be aware of access to water hazards in your yard and neighborhood. If a child goes missing, check these areas first.

For more information and water safety resources, including posters, brochures and a coloring book for children, visit the DCFS website: and click on Safe Kids > Health and Safety Tips for Children > Water Safety.

About the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Founded in 1964, DCFS is responsible for protecting children from abuse or neglect by responding to reports received by the Child Abuse Hotline at (non-emergency situations) or 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873). With the goal of keeping children safe, DCFS strengthens and supports families with a wide range of services. When keeping a child safe means removing them from the home, DCFS makes every effort to reunite them with their family. When the best interest of the child makes this impossible, DCFS is committed to pursuing guardianship or adoption by loving families to provide children with a safe and permanent home. DCFS is also responsible for licensing and monitoring of all Illinois child welfare agencies.

[Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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