Water Safety

Swim Safely: Water Safety Starts Here

Kids love to make a splash, but they often don’t know their limits. That’s why we need to actively watch them when they’re in and around water. Whether it’s in your backyard or at the community pool, help make pool time safer with the tips below.

Steps to Safety

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  • Actively Supervise Your Children

    • Be attentive when your children are near water. Teach them never to go near or into water alone – an adult should always be present. 
    • Stay nearby. When infants and toddlers are in the water, adults should never be more than an arm’s length away. And even though there may be a lifeguard, it is important to watch over older children as well. 
    • Take a break from multitasking and focus all your attention on the pool when your kids are in it. Try not to take your eyes away for a second, not even to check your phone.
    • Get a good life jacket. Traditional pool floats, like water wings, inner tubes and pool noodles, aren’t designed to keep kids safe. Use a life jacket approved by the Coast Guard to be safer. The American Red Cross's Longfellow's WHALE Tales has even more life jacket safety.
  • Learn to swim

    • Start your baby out early. You can introduce your little one to the water as early as 6 months old. 
    • Sign your children up for swimming lessons. Formal lessons can help reduce the risk of drowning, especially for kids ages 1 to 4. 
    • Make sure your child knows the basics. Everyone should learn how to float and tread water, and should also know how to figure out how deep the water is. 
    • Teach kids the differences between swimming in a pool and swimming in open water. Pools or areas specifically set up for swimming are best for young swimmers. Open water in the ocean, creek, or other bodies of water can have uneven surfaces, larger waves and strong currents that can make swimming more difficult.
    • Keep little children out of the hot tub. When they become big enough to stand with their heads above the water, keep dips less than 5 minutes. For everyone’s safety, keep the water no hotter than 104 degrees.
  • Follow pool rules

    • Teach children to get into the pool feet first unless they know for sure that it is more than 9 feet deep. Only then is it safe to dive, and only when an adult is watching them. 
    • Stop horseplay around the pool. Don’t let your kids run or ride bikes near the edge of the pool. 
    • Pools are for swimming, not for snacking. Eating, drinking, and chewing gum while swimming can lead to choking. For more on choking hazards, go here
    • Teach children to never use a pool, hot tub or spa that’s missing a drain cover. They should let a parent or lifeguard know if a drain cover is broken, loose or missing, and avoid the water until the cover has been fixed.
    • To learn even more, including a plan for how to talk about Pool Rules with your kids, download the American Red Cross’s Longfellow’s WHALE Tales lesson plan.
  • Know What To Do In An Emergency

    • Make sure that you and anyone who takes care of your kids are trained in CPR, so you’ll all be ready if there’s ever a need. Find a class in your area here.
    • Drowning can happen silently, in seconds, and in just inches of water.
    • Visit the American Red Cross’s Longfellow’s WHALE Tales to learn and recognize signs of drowning.

Did You Know?


Drowning is the #1 cause of injury-related death in kids under 4.

- CDC


Make your Backyard Pool Safe


Thank you


Content developed in association with:

Nationwide Childrens Hospital

For more information, go to Our Role.