The Danger Age – keeping children safe around water


This 7 minute film, made by bereavement counsellor Jenni Thomas, aims to highlight the dangers of water for small children. The Danger Age refers to children aged between 2-4 who are most at risk of drowning because they are inquisitive, unpredictable and can easily wander off. The film also reminds us that small children associate water with fun so they are not aware of the dangers.

Don’t leave your children unattended in or by water, even for a second – young children can drown quickly and silently.

As a mum, I know how easy it is to take your eyes of your children, to be busy and distracted and to assume they are ok. One of the big risks at this time of year is, when out in a group, you can easily be distracted or assume that someone else is keeping an eye on the children. Try to make sure someone is with or watching the children.





What does drowning look like?

It is also important to know what drowning looks like – most of us think it’s what we see on tv with someone calling for help and trying to get someone’s attention. But infact, someone who is drowning can look like they are calm and treading water. The Instinctive Drowning Response means  that there is very little splashing, no waving, no yelling for help so we don’t know someone is in trouble unless we know what to look for because drowning doesn’t look like drowning…

Dr Francesco A. Pia described the Instinctive Drowning Response:

  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.


Drowning can happen right next to you – if you are not sure if the child or adult is ok please ask them. If they can respond, then great if they can’t respond and all you get is a stare there may only be a few seconds to save them…


About Janine 659 Articles
As an experienced and qualified practitioner, I specialise in pregnancy, birth and parent support - my aim is to listen, inform, support and reassure when needed. I have worked with parents since 2002 and I set up Birth, Baby & Family in 2011 to provide good information, different voices and links to the best products and services for families.