How to Watch Kids Around Water
- Watch kids when they are in or around water. Keep young children and weak swimmers within arm’s reach of an adult. Make sure more experienced swimmers are with a partner every time.
- Choose a Water Watcher. When there are several adults present, choose one to be responsible for watching children in or near the water for a certain period of time, such as 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, select another adult to be the Water Watcher.
- Avoid distractions when your child is in or around water. Drowning is often silent and can occur in less than five minutes, so it is important to give your child all of your attention. Put away phones, books and magazines.
How to Teach Your Child to Swim
- Teach children how to swim. Every child is different, so enroll children in swim lessons when they are ready. Consider their age, development and how often they are around water.
- Make sure kids learn these five water survival skills.
- Step or jump into water over their head and return to the surface.
- Turn around in the water and orient to safety.
- Float or tread water.
- Combine breathing with forward movement in the water.
- Exit the water.
Tips for Pool Safety
- Install fences around home pools. A pool fence should surround all sides of the pool and be at least four feet tall with self-closing and self-latching gates.
- Be aware of pool drains. Teach your child not to or swim near pool drains or suction outlets. Visit Pool Safely to learn more about available resources to keep kids safe around pool drains.
- Empty kids’ pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.
- Learn more pool safety tips.
Tips for Swimming in Open Water
- Teach children that swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool. Be aware of situations that are unique to open water, such as limited visibility, depth, uneven surfaces, currents and undertow. These potential hazards can make swimming in open water more challenging than swimming in a pool.
- Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when boating or participating in other water activities. Choose a life jacket that is right for your child’s weight and water activity. Weak swimmers and children who cannot swim should wear life jackets when they are in or near water.
- Use designated swimming areas and recreational areas whenever possible. Look for posted signs about open water hazards. Also look for signs that say when lifeguards will be present.
- Learn more open water safety tips.
Lean Water Rescue Skills
- Learn CPR and basic water rescue skills. It is important to know how to respond in an emergency without putting yourself at risk of drowning. Learning these skills may help you save a life.
Learn About the Hidden Hazards of Open Water
- When swimming in open water, enter feet first and wade in slowly. Sometimes it can be hard to see things such as rocks, logs, uneven surfaces and sudden drop-offs in open water. If lifeguards are present, ask about the safest area to swim.
- Check for signs indicating water depth, distances and sudden drop offs. Unlike in a pool, open water rarely has depth markings, which makes it harder for parents to know when a child is getting into deeper water. Also, open water usually involves larger distances than a pool, and it can be hard to know how far away the shore is.
- Open water can be fast-moving and unpredictable. Water in rivers, creeks and streams constantly flows downstream, creating strong currents due to changes under the surface of the water.
- Be aware of ocean waves and rip currents. A rip current is a long, narrow band of water that can pull a swimmer away from shore and out into the ocean in just a few seconds. Make sure to learn about how to recognize, avoid and handle ocean rip currents.
- Check the weather and water conditions before you leave home and throughout the day. Swimming, boating, personal watercraft or sail/surf boarding are dangerous activities when lightning is in the area. Stay out of the water if you hear thunder or see lightning. Heavy rains and flooding can create strong currents and quickly change the depth and clarity of water.
- Water temperature can affect swimming ability. Falling into cold water can cause cold shock, which makes swimming difficult, even for strong swimmers. Remember to dress for the water temperature, rather than the air temperature and wear a life jacket to reduce the risk of drowning.