Water Safety: Environment & Parental Vigilance


Drowning can occur in as little as two inches of water.  It’s important that we are aware of hazards in our environment, as prevention is the first step to keeping our children safe.

underwater pool
  • Backyard kiddie pools, large buckets and bathtubs should be actively supervised during use and made inaccessible or emptied when not in use. Close bathroom doors and use child-proof door knob covers, and secure toilet lids – never allow children to play alone in the bathroom.
  • If you have an in-ground pool at your home, the safest option is to fence it in with a 4 sided fence at least four feet high, with a self-closing gate/latch, which can reduce the risk of drowning by 83% compared to a three-sided system with the fourth side being the house. If your pool is framed by your house on one side, ensure doors from your house to the pool are equipped with an alert system and a child proof locking system.
  • If you have an above-ground pool, the safest is option is to fully enclose it. Always remove the ladder from the pool when not in use/under supervision, and keep items away from it that a child could stand on to get into the pool (i.e. furniture, toys, buckets).  Keep spas covered when not in use.
  • Be aware of your potential hazards in your environment. In addition to pools and spas, are there bodies of water (ponds, wells, fountains, irrigation/drainage ditches, retention ponds) in your neighborhood?  If you are unable to locate your child, always check these areas first.


father and son in pool together

Additionally, parents should:

  • Limit time in water and build in frequent rest, hydration and food breaks. Water activities can quickly exhaust young children, who may not recognize how tired their bodies are.
  • Have your child wear brightly colored swimsuits to make them easy to spot (avoid blue!)
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages during water activities. Alcohol can affect your alertness and response time as well as impair your ability to swim.
  • Don’t permit wheeled toys near water, as a child may be thrown from them into the water. (Think bikes, trikes, scooters, skateboards, skates, push toys, wagons and walkers.)
  • Silence is suspicious. Drowning is subtle and silent; don’t expect to hear a shout for help or sounds of splashing or struggling!
  • Have your older children always swim with a buddy. Older children (age recommendations vary from 12-14) who are competent swimmers should always swim with a competent “buddy”, even if you permit them to swim unsupervised.  



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