Most kids LOVE splashing around in pools and “swimming.” Even toddlers who hate bath time tend to get a kick out of being in a pool. Kids also like to hit the beach, stick their feet in the sand, and dig for buried treasure. At the same time that kids are enjoying the sunshine and water, their parents are often stressing about sunscreen, pool gear, and how to keep their child safe.

Get Wise About the Top Water Safety Tips Below…

Water Safety Tips

Drowning is sadly the leading cause of injury-related deaths in children 1-4 years of age.1 The majority of drownings occur in family or neighborhood swimming pools. Drowning can happen in the blink of an eye even with adults watching and a lifeguard on duty.

This Info is Not Meant to Scare You, But to Highlight the Importance of Being Careful Around Water.

Here are the Top 6 Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe In (and Around) Pools:

1. Adult Supervision is Key.

Tap an adult to be on “pool duty.” It’s best for the adult to be IN the pool, especially if he/she is watching children who aren’t strong, independent swimmers. This enables the adult to provide “touch supervision.”

PediaTip: If you’re having a party with kids swimming and you expect the conversation (and alcohol) to be flowing, hire lifeguards. It’s safer and more fun for everyone.

2. Do the Following if You Have a Pool at Home:

  • Install a 4-sided fence with a self-closing gate around the pool. The fence should be at least 4 feet high.
  • Keep the pool cover closed, the pool fence secured, and the doors leading to the pool area locked (including pet doors) when you’re not in the pool.

    Why? Because drownings don’t always happen when people are out by the pool, swimming. Kids love water and may try to sneak out the door and go for a dip when everyone else is inside.
  • Consider installing an alarm that sounds when the gate to the pool or to the doors leading out to the pool are opened.
  • Make sure that your pool has an “anti-entrapment drain cover” (ask your pool maintenance person if you have one, if you’re not sure).

3. Teach Your Child to Swim. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Recommends That Kids Start Taking Swim Lessons Around 1 Year of Age.2

Don’t, however, expect your child to swim well at first or to be responsible enough to do it on his/her own.

Handy Stat: Studies show that formal swim lessons reduce the likelihood of drowning by as much as 88% in kids 1-4 years of age.3

PediaTip: Avoid the “total immersion” swim classes that are popular for kids under 1 year. During these classes, infants are dunked under water and use their “survival instincts” to resurface. These classes haven’t been proven to reduce the drowning risk in kids, though, and can stress babies out.

4. Get CPR Trained, Just in Case.

5. Have Your Child Wear a Flotation Device in the Pool.

PediaWise Pick: The Body Glove Paddle Pals Life Jacket (for kids 30-50 pounds).

In addition, make sure to throw a life jacket on your child whenever he/she is on a boat or near open water (e.g. when playing near the shore).

A Word of Caution: Don’t rely on these flotation devices too much, though — close supervision is still needed.

Sneak Peek: When your child gets older, teach him/her about riptides.

What’s the Story With Riptides, Again? If you’re ever caught in a riptide, swim parallel to the shore. Once you’ve escaped the current, you can swim towards the shore. This completely goes against one’s natural instincts, so it’s important to know this (and to practice it) when swimming in open water.

6. Immediately Drain Inflatable Wading Pools and Empty Buckets of Water.

Why? Because standing water is a drowning hazard even if it’s not all that deep. In fact, babies and young children can drown in less than 2 inches of water (think: in bathtubs, buckets, and toilets).4

The Bottom Line

Enjoy the pool, the beach and the sun with your child but remember to be mindful of the water safety rules above.