Scout leaders and parents may not realize that drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for youth of Scout age and younger.

Those deaths are especially tragic since the risk factors for drowning are often easily avoided. Unfortunately, many youth and adults do not appreciate the hazards for common swimming situations.

Do you know:

  1. How long it takes a toddler to drown in a back yard pool?
  2. How a drowning non-swimmer behaves in deep water after being pushed in, stepping over a drop off, or falling off an inflatable toy?
  3. Why breath holding contests are dangerous?
  4. How to react when caught in an ocean rip current?
  5. Factors that can cause even a good swimmer to drown in calm water?
  6. Why drowning is still possible in a pool with trained lifeguards on duty?

The answers to those questions, along with ways to prevent and respond to water emergencies, are covered in the newly revised Safe Swim Defense training found under the My Scouting tab at If you last reviewed that training prior to June of 2012, you should check out the latest version with video footage, which replaces cartoons with video footage. The guidelines have not changed, but the revised training provides additional detail and clarity. A DVD of the updated training is also available from

BSA policies require unit swimming activities to be supervised by adults with current Safe Swim Defense training. However, the training also provides important information for family swimming events and may be taken by anyone. Although drowning occurs year-round, summer is the prime season, with many groups headed to the water for the Labor Day holiday. Keep your unit, family, and friends safe by following the safety guidelines in Scouting’s Safe Swim Defense.

(You can find the answers to the questions above in the BSA’s Health & Safety Summer 2012 newsletter!)