Water Safety & Drowning Prevention

Drowning Prevention

In the pool, at the beach or even in your bathroom, water can be dangerous to your kids if you don’t take the right precautions. Drowning can happen any time of year, but parents need to be particularly vigilant during warmer months, when the number of drownings skyrockets. Below are resources to help keep your kids safe.

Child Drownings

Ages 1-4

Drowning is the leading cause of death in US children ages 1-4 (American Academy of Pediatrics; CDC WISQARS)

Pool Safety


of children younger than 5 years were not expected to be in the pool (American Academy of Pediatrics)

Home Drowning Prevention Tips

  • Always stay within an arm’s reach of your child when he or she is in or near the bathtub, toilet, pools, spas or buckets. Never leave your child alone or in the care of older children during bath time.
  • Once bath time is over, immediately drain the tub.
  • Empty all buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside-down and out of children’s reach.
  • Keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks.
  • Never leave your child unattended in a tub or around any other body of water, even if he or she knows how to swim.
  • Keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.
  • Baby bath seats must be attached to the side of the bath tub with a locking arm to secure it. Do not use bath rings with suction cups as they do not meet U.S. safety standards.

Pool and Hot Tub Tips

Prevent Drowning:

  • Actively supervise your children around water at all times by assigning a water watcher and have a phone nearby to call for help in an emergency.
  • Floatation devices are not a substitute for touch supervision. There is no such thing as a “learn to swim” aid. This term is simply for marketing. NEVER use blow-up floatation devices such as arm floaties or neck rings, as they can deflate.
  • Make sure your pool has four-sided fencing and a self-closing, self-latching gate to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised. Mesh fencing is preferred so that children cannot climb. In addition, hot tubs should be covered and locked when not in use.
  • If a child is in the water, so should the parent. Touch supervision is required any time a child is in the water.
  • Install a door alarm, a window alarm or both to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.
  • If you have a pool, remove doggy doors and pet entrances to prevent children from accessing outside spaces.
  • From the start, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult.
  • Children older than 1 year will benefit from swim lessons. Infants younger than 1 year are developmentally unable to learn the complex movements, such as breathing, that are necessary to swim. Lessons should focus on survival skills.
  • Your pediatrician is a good resource to help know if your toddler is ready for swim lessons.
  • Learn CPR, and start with rescue breaths before chest compressions in drowning victims.

Layers of protection

Drowning prevention tips

Pool safety tips for you and your family include:

  • Constant supervision
  • Assign water watchers
  • Fences
  • Remove temptation
  • Learn CPR
  • No dog doors
  • Add alarms and locks
  • Check the pool first

To learn more safety tips, download the following guide to help keep children safe in and around water.

Download the Drowning Prevention Tips >

Prevent Entrapment:

Pools that pose the greatest risk of entrapment are children’s public wading pools, in-ground hot tubs or any other pools that have flat drain grates and/or a single main drain system.

  • Warn your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment and teach them to never play or swim near drains or suction outlets.
  • Never swim in a pool or hot tub that has a broken, loose or missing drain cover.
  • Install protection to prevent entrapment if you own a pool or hot tub.
  • For new pools or hot tubs, install multiple drains or use a no-drain circulation system.
    • If you do have drains, protective measures include anti-entrapment drain covers and a safety vacuum release system to automatically release suction and shut down the pump should entrapment occur. Go to for a list of manufacturers of certified covers.
    • You can check with your pool operator to find out whether your pool or hot tub’s drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act.

Open Water Safety Tips

Follow these tips around open water:

  • Before you go to the beach, check the “beach warning flags” which indicate water conditions such as current strength, presence of hazardous marine life, etc.
  • Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention. Appoint a designated “water watcher,” taking turns with other adults.
  • Any time you are around open water, children should be wearing life jackets.
  • Enroll your child in swimming lessons – it is an important skill for both children and adults to know.
  • Make sure kids swim only in areas designated for swimming.
  • Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool: they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
  • Do not let kids operate personal watercrafts such as jet skis. These are intended for adults and require special training.
  • Teach children not to dive into oceans, lakes or rivers because you never know how deep the water is or what might be hidden under the surface of the water.
  • Learn infant and child CPR and keep a phone nearby in case of an emergency.

Protect your children while boating, by following these steps:

  • Always have your children wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard while on boats or around open bodies of water or participating in water sports. The life jacket should fit snugly and not allow the child’s chin or ears to slip through the neck opening.
  • Take a boating education course that will teach safe boating practices.
  • Get a vessel safety check every year for free from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons. For more information go to and click “get a free safety check.”
  • Never drink alcoholic beverages while boating.

Learn more about water safety at home.