Pool and Ocean Safety Tips for Kids 

posted: 05/17/17
by: Katie Morton
Close up of swimming lesson - child practicing flutter kick with kick board with instructor in indoor swimming pool - back view

For many families, sticky summer days mean long, lazy hours enjoying the cool water. Whether you're taking your family around the corner to splash around in the neighborhood pool or across the country to surf ocean waves, water safety is of vital importance. Any time you mix kids and open water, it's crucial to keep key safety tips in mind. With some commonsense and vigilance, your family will have a fun, safe summer!

1. Never Leave Children Unattended by the Water

It's common sense but it bears stating: Keeping an eye on your children around any body of water is the simplest way to prevent accidents. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends "touch supervision" for all children under the age of five when they are around bodies of water.

Basically, if you're within arm's reach, you will be able to easily intervene if they fall, slip, or go under. Small children are at the greatest risk in the pool or ocean. In fact, very young children can drown in as little as two inches of water! Stay near, stay alert, and stay safe.

2. Teach Your Kids About Basic Pool and Water Safety Rules of Conduct

It's important to teach your kids about basic water safety and proper pool behavior. Share rules such as no running by the pool, only swim when an adult is present, and no diving in the shallow end.

Community pools often offer water safety classes for young pool goers, teaching them the basic rules. Insist that each young family member learn pool safety rules, and that they all follow them. Make sure you enforce consequences for not following the safety rules; that way your kids will know that you are serious about the importance of staying safe.

For more on pool safety, review Healthy Children's video How to Keep Children Safe in and Around Pools.

3. Learn CPR and Basic First Aid

Knowing CPR and first aid can save a life in the event of emergency or serious injury. Keep in mind that administering infant CPR is different than child or adult CPR.

The Red Cross is an excellent place to get fully certified in CPR and First Aid. To find Red Cross CPR and First Aid classes in your local area, visit their website or call 800-RED-CROSS.

4. Enforce Pool Safety at Home

If you have a home swimming pool or outdoor hot tub, it's important to take extra safety precautions so your kids (and neighborhood kids!) can't access the water without a supervising adult present. Safety experts recommend that you surround the pool with a fence around the perimeter. The fence should be no less than 5 feet high, with securely latching gates.

If you have small children, then internal home door alarms and pool alarms can add an extra sense of security. These alarms will alert you if someone tries to enter the pool deck or patio area. A pool cover is another safety mechanism to help keep unattended children out of the pool area. Of course, if you have a pool deck or gate keys, also keep these out of the hands of young children.

5. Professional Swimming Lessons

Swimming is a survival skill and swim lessons are important for all children. Professional swim training can help your child learn how to navigate the water and prevent drowning.

The Red Cross offers swim safety classes for students of all ages. And the Infant Swimming Resource (IRS) offers survival swimming lessons for children, starting at 6 months old.

For age-appropriate swimming tips, read Parents' Teach Your Child to Swim.

6. Open Water Safety

Children should always swim in designated areas. At the beach, this means swimming in front of lifeguard stands. Pay attention to possible issues such as the current, undertow, or marine wildlife (jellyfish, sharks, etc.). Small children should wear life jackets while in the water.

However, water safety experts say not to rely on those life jackets in lieu of swimming safety skills. Life jackets should not take the place of adult supervision, but rather should be used as just another safety tool. If you're unsure on where to purchase a life jacket or how to fit one properly, check out the U.S. Coast Guard Guide's How to Choose the Right Life Jacket.

Hot summer days are just around the corner--and that means fun in the pool and in the ocean. By following these simple safety tips, you'll be making sure your family enjoys summertime in the water.