Tips to keep children safe around water

May is National Water Safety Month, a good time for parents to consider teaching their children how to swim.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports swimming lessons for most children 4 years and older. Water safety classes can also reduce the risk of drowning in younger children, the pediatrics group reports, but advises that because children develop at different rates, not all will be ready to swim at the same age.

The Pediatric Academy cites several water-safety tips for parents, including:

  • Never — even for a moment — leave small children alone or in the care of another young child while in bathtubs, pools, spas or wading pools or near irrigation ditches or standing water.
  • Empty water from buckets and other containers immediately after use.
  • To prevent drowning in toilets, young children should not be left alone in the bathroom.
  • Closely supervise children in and around water. With infants, toddlers and weak swimmers, an adult should be within an arm’s length.

With older children and better swimmers, an adult should be focused on the child and not distracted by other activities.

Bath seats cannot substitute for adult supervision.

  • If children are in out-of-home child care, ask about exposure to water and the ratio of adults to children.
  • If you have a pool, install a four-sided fence that is at least 4-feet high to limit access to the pool. The fence should be hard to climb (not chain-link) and have a self-latching, self-closing gate.

Families may consider pool alarms and rigid pool covers as additional layers of protection, but neither can take the place of a fence.

  • Parents, caregivers and pool owners should learn CPR.
  • Do not use air-filled swimming aids (such as inflatable arm bands) in place of life jackets. They can deflate and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.


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