Swimming Safety Tips

Spring is here and summer is right around the corner. Summer is a special time for having fun in the water, yet drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death. Each year more than 1,000 children under the age of 14 drown. Another 16,000 are rushed to hospitals for near-drowning. Children ages 4 and under are at the greatest risk. Many adults do not realize that a child can drown is as little as one inch of water. Most drowning occurs at home or in residential pools. Drowning is many times called the “silent killer” as you might not hear a cry for help or the sound of a splash to alert you that a child is in trouble. To keep your summer fun and tragedy-free, follow these safety tips:

At home

  • Never leave a child alone in or near water, including bathtubs, sinks and toilets.
  • Never rely on any type of support ring to keep your child safe in the bathtub.
  • Empty all buckets and any other containers that hold water or any other fluid immediately after use.
  • Use toilet locks.


In pools

  • Never leave a child alone in or near a swimming pool even just to answer the telephone.
  • Enclose a pool or spa with four-sided fence which is a minimum of five feet in height, that has self-closing and self-latching gates. It is recommended that the side of a house not be used as any of the sides of the fenced area.
  • Make sure all wading pools are emptied and turned over immediately after use.
  • Learn first aid and CPR, especially infant CPR.
  • Use door and pool alarms and automatic pool covers for extra protection.
  • Teach every child how to swim. Get professional training, but never rely solely on the swimming lessons to protect a child from drowning.
  • Teach the importance of never running, pushing or jumping on other around water.


In open water

  • Never leave children alone and make sure older children always swim with a friend about the same age or with an adult.
  • Always make sure that children swim in approved designated areas in oceans, lakes and rivers. Always check the depth of the water before swimming or diving. If swimming in the ocean, check the current and under-tow.
  • Be sure every child wears a proper fitting life jacket when on a boat or near water. Air-filled swimming aids, such as “water wings,” are not safe substitutes for life jackets. Never rely on a life jacket alone to protect your child.

Get and keep the proper gear.

In the home use toilet locks and non-slip appliqués or bath mats in tubs.

Around pools, make sure they are enclosed and have rescue equipment, such as a shepherd’s crook, life ring, solid pole, or rope readily available.

In an emergency, you do not want to have to hunt for the safety equipment. Keep emergency telephone numbers poolside. Use door and pool alarms.

A little planning can help ensure that your family and friends will have a safe and enjoyable summer.

Resource: The National SAFE KIDS Campaign, 1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20004