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Illinois DCFS Urges Parents and Caregivers: ‘Stay Water-Wise, Supervise!’ When Children Are Around Water

As summer unfolds, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) underscores the critical importance for parents and caregivers to maintain constant supervision when children are in or near water, aiming to prevent the devastating toll of accidental drowning incidents.

In 2023, Illinois tragically witnessed the loss of 20 children to accidental drowning, spanning various water sources: eight in pools, four in bathtubs, four in lakes, two in ponds, one in a washing machine, and one at a water park. Among these victims, 13 were aged 5 and younger, with six of them succumbing to pool-related incidents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning stands as the leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 4, and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for those aged 5 to 14. For every child lost to drowning, another seven face emergency department treatment for non-fatal submersion injuries.

“Summer is just beginning, and soon families will be enjoying outdoor gatherings, lake outings, and waterpark adventures, along with backyard splashes with toddlers,” remarked Illinois DCFS Director Heidi E. Mueller. “Yet, it takes just one inch of water and mere seconds for a child to drown. It’s crucial for adults to vigilantly supervise children whenever they’re around water to avert tragedy. ‘Reach supervision,’ where an adult stays close enough to touch a child in water, is an effective practice. Let’s ensure our children’s safety this summer by staying water-wise and vigilant!”

Here are essential safety measures to safeguard children and prevent water-related mishaps:


  • Never leave young children unattended in a bathtub, and don’t rely solely on bathtub seats for safety.
  • Secure toilet lids to prevent potential drowning accidents.
  • Avoid leaving children alone in the bathroom.


  • Store five-gallon buckets securely out of children’s reach when not in use, as toddlers may accidentally fall into them.

Portable or Inflatable Pools:

  • Despite their shallow depth, baby pools still pose drowning risks, so empty and store them upside-down after use.

Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs:

  • Ensure above-ground pools are kept clear of potential climbing aids like ladders or patio furniture.
  • Install a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas.
  • Remove pool toys and floats after swimming sessions.
  • While personal flotation devices can be worn, they do not guarantee protection against drowning.
  • Always supervise children in hot tubs and keep them covered securely when not in use.
  • Designate a competent swimmer to oversee children in the pool, and learn CPR for added preparedness.

Ponds, Fountains, and Retention Ponds:

  • Be vigilant about water hazards in your surroundings, especially in yards and neighborhoods, and prioritize checking these areas if a child goes missing.

For further water safety guidance and resources, including posters, brochures, and a children’s coloring book, visit the DCFS website under “Safe Kids” and “Health and Safety Tips for Children.”

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