Summer is approaching and with it its barbecues and swimming. As the good weather sets in across the country, the risk of drowning will unfortunately increase in the same proportions as the mercury. In France, each year, accidental drownings are responsible for approximately 1,000 deaths. Nearly half take place during the summer period.

How do you protect your children? What steps can you take to reduce the risk of drowning? We met Agnès Verrier, project and scientific expertise manager in the infectious and environmental risk prevention unit of Public Health France.

The first precept is simple: “You have to swim with your child, ensure active and permanent monitoring”, explains Agnès Verrier, project manager and scientific expert at Public Health France. Inadequate supervision is the leading cause of drowning in children under 6 years old. “Swimming should be a moment of pleasure but with continuous attention from adults. Whether children are playing at the water’s edge or not, adults must not relax their supervision.”

“It is important for every adult to know which child they are watching. In drowning accidents, adults felt that an uncle or cousin was watching a child. As a result, he escaped their attention. To avoid this type of confusion, it is immediately necessary to determine who is watching whom. You must have the same gestures whether you are at home or in a private garden or in a vacation rental.”

When swimming, the guarantee of safety therefore falls above all to adults. “The child does not have the perception of the risk. The adult must be central in the surveillance.” However, it is possible to teach the little ones simple actions that could save them in the event of an accidental fall into a swimming pool.

For Agnès Verrier, “we can address the question of aquatic ease from an early age, around 3-4 years old. It is a question of making the child aware of swimming as early as possible. We first teach him to be comfortable in the water, to move. First, we put the children in a swimming pool where they have no feet so that they learn to move with their hands on the edge. Then , they are taught to walk away and come back to the edge alone.”

According to the prevention messages, parents must systematically bathe with their children until they are 6 years old. However, for Agnès Verrier, it is not just a question of age. “You have to take into account learning to swim too. And then, even if the child is independent, there has to be supervision.” Because it only takes a few seconds for a child to drown. “A young child who is drowning is not going to scream. Anything can happen very quickly and silently.”

If no safety device replaces the vigilance of adults, in France, private pools for family use are subject to specific legislation and safety standards.

According to the construction and housing code, any unenclosed private inground swimming pool for individual use must be equipped with at least one of the four standardized safety devices aimed at preventing the risk of drowning: shelter, alarm, barrier or cover. . If a person does not have one of his devices, he is liable to a fine of 45,000 euros.

“There is not one swimming pool more dangerous than the other. All are. Buried, above ground, inflatable… The buried swimming pool, with its security system, can give an illusion of security to parents who can relax their attention”, underlines Agnès Verrier, project and scientific expertise manager for Public Health France.

“With simple gestures, you can enjoy swimming in complete serenity. For above-ground pools, without mandatory safety devices, you must, for example, simply remove the ladder to limit the child’s access” , adds the project and expertise manager.

To conclude, Agnès Verrier declares: “Swimming should be a joyful moment, a family reunion with active supervision. We don’t answer the phone, we don’t go away under any circumstances.” As the prevention campaign, launched by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Sports and the National Consumer Institute (INC) reminds us: “You care about them, don’t take your eyes off them.”