Family Water Safety 101

Family Water Safety

Each year there are far too many preventable drowning deaths. Parents need to be extra vigilant when their children are around water, especially in the summer when around the pool or at the beach.  Following these tips can help to prevent fatal water accidents from happening to your family this summer.


Water safety for babies

All bodies of water are drowning hazards for infants.  This includes toilets, buckets and bathtubs filled with even just shallow water. Parents should keep their eyes on their infant and always be within arm’s reach at all times.

If your baby can’t sit up securely on her own in the bathtub, support their back at all times.

Don’t dunk a baby underwater. Although infants may naturally hold their breath, they’re just as likely not to.


Water safety for toddlers and kids

Never leave a young child alone in a body of water, no matter the depth. If you must leave the area, take the child with you.  Remember, they can drown in less than 2 inches (6 centimeters) of water. 

Curious Toddler?  Keep the toilet lid down with the bathroom door closed, or get a lid lock for the toilet to help prevent drowning.

Enroll your child in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors as soon as your child seems ready (probably around age 4).

All kids, no matter their swimming ability, need to be supervised in the water.  Toddlers, and weak swimmers should have an adult swimmer within arm’s reach.

If you have a permanent pool, make sure it’s completely enclosed with a fence, always lock the gate after each use, and make sure there’s nothing your child can climb on to get over the pool’s fence.

When going near a large body of water, make sure that your child is wearing a proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved flotation device (life vest).  For kids under 5, choose a vest with a strap between the legs and head support. Inflatable vests and arm devices such as water wings are not effective protection against drowning.

Kids shouldn’t run or push around a pool.

Don’t leave pool toys in the water. A child might fall into the water while trying to retrieve a toy.

When at the Beach, don’t allow kids to swim  in large waves or undertows.  It is important that children never stand with their back to the water as a sudden wave could easily knock them over.

Teach your children that if they’re caught in a rip current or undertow that they should swim parallel to the shore and call for help.

Drain inflatable or plastic wading pools after each use, and store in an upright position.


Water safety for the Whole Family

Swimming lessons from a qualified instructor rather than from a friend or family member is important if you’re not a strong, competent swimmer.

Don’t swim if you’ve been drinking alcohol. 

Don’t swim alone.

Stay out of the water during thunderstorms and other severe weather.

Don’t exceed your swimming ability. Know your limits and stick to them.  It is important not to overestimate your swimming ability or underestimate the depth of the water.

Check the water  for rocks and depth before diving into a body of water. Always dive with your arms extended firmly over your head and your hands together rather than head first.  Don’t dive into unknown bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, quarries, or irrigation ditches. Jump feet first to avoid hitting your head (and breaking your neck or back) on a shallow bottom, hidden rock, or other obstruction.

For home pools and spas, make sure the drain has an anti-entrapment cover or another type of drain safety system, such as an automatic pump shut off.  The suction from a pool drain can be strong enough to hold even an adult underwater.


What to Do in an Emergency

If you find someone in the water, immediately get them out while calling for help. If someone else is available, have them call 911. Check to ensure the air passages are clear. If they are not breathing, CPR should be initiated by someone who is trained in CPR.

If you think they may have suffered a neck injury, such as with diving, then keep them on his or her back and brace the neck and shoulders with your hands and forearms to help keep the neck immobilized until emergency help arrives. Don’t let them move in order to minimize the risk for further injury and continue to watch their breathing.


16 thoughts on “Family Water Safety 101

  1. Being able to swim is so important! When my girls were small I was always uber attentive when water was involved!

  2. Water is a very intriguing but dangerous thing for children. Thanks for the great tips.. refreshing one’s self is the best. especially when it comes to children and water.

  3. anti-entrapment cover is so so important, especially for those with older pools. Not everybody thinks of that.

  4. A reach for a toy or slipping on the deck can become a disaster. Know your CPR skills and be ever vigilant when with children by water

  5. These are great reminders. Thank you for posting this! I especially like the tip about not leaving toys in the water. I would also keep them away from near the water, as on a windy day they could blow in and be a temptation for children.

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