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Safety and Injuries > Swimming and Water Safety

Swimming and Water Safety

Information on how to protect your child around water, in swimming pools, at lakes, and much more.

How can I protect my child around water?

All parents should take a basic CPR course! Young children can drown in only a few inches of water, even if they've had swimming instruction.

Children who are swimming - even in a shallow toddler's pool - should be watched by an adult, preferably one who knows CPR.

Inflatable pools should be emptied and put away after each play session. (This also reduces unwanted mosquitoes!)

Enforce safety rules - no running near the pool and no pushing others underwater.

Water wings, tubes and other floating devices are not approved flotation devices and should be used only under direct and close supervision.

Be sure the deep and shallow ends of any pool your child swims in are clearly marked. Never allow your child to dive in the shallow end.

What about swimming lessons?

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend swimming lessons for children under three years old. There are two reasons:
 
  • You may be less cautious because you think your child can swim.
  • Young children may swallow so much of water that they develop water intoxication. This can result in seizures, shock and even death.

If you do enroll a child under age three in a swimming program, such as a "mommy-and-me" class, think of it primarily as an opportunity to enjoy playing in the water together. Do not allow them to submerge your child's head under water.

When your child reaches three, you may want to teach him to swim so he'll feel more comfortable in and around water, but remember that even a child who knows how to swim needs to be watched constantly.

How can I protect my child around the backyard pool?

Inflatable pools should be emptied and put away after each play session. (This also reduces unwanted mosquitoes!)

If you have a swimming pool at home, it should be completely surrounded on 4 sides with a tall fence that has a self-locking gate. The house cannot serve as one side of the barrier. Keep the gate closed and locked at all times. Be sure your child cannot manipulate the lock or climb the fence.

If your pool has a cover, remove it completely before swimming. Never allow anyone to walk on the pool cover. Your child could fall through it and become trapped underneath.

Keep a safety ring with a rope beside the pool at all times. If possible, have a phone in the pool area with emergency numbers clearly marked.

Spas and hot tubs are dangerous for young children, who can easily drown or become overheated in them. Don't allow young children to use them.

What about at the lake?

All people should always wear a life preserver when riding in a boat. A life preserver fits properly if you can't lift it off over your child's head after he's been fastened into it. For the child under age five, particularly the non-swimmer, it also should have a flotation collar to keep the head upright and the face out of the water.

Adults should not drink alcohol when they are swimming or boating. It presents a danger for them as well as for any children they might be supervising.

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