Why is Kids Water Safety Important?
For most kids, water is fun and fascinating. Parents are rightfully concerned and cautious when water is near because kids aren’t fully aware of the dangers. Kids have a higher risk of drowning in very little water – whether at home or playing on vacation. As you think about water safety, here are a few recent facts and statistics to keep in mind.
- Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for kids. 12 percent of drownings in 2017 were kids ages four and younger. – National Safety Council
- Infant drowning deaths often happen in bathtubs and large buckets. – Safe Kids Worldwide
- 87 percent of drowning fatalities for children younger than five years old are in home pools or hot tubs. – Red Cross
- Young children can drown in only two inches of water – including toilets, inflatable pools and fountains. – Kids Health
- Most drowning and submersion injuries for children younger than five are associated with pools. – U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Water Safety Rules and Regulations to Consider
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (U.S. CPSC) outlines the best safety barrier guidelines for home pools and hot tubs. For your safety, you’ll also want to be aware of municipal and state pool barrier laws before installing a pool – including any pool signage and fencing requirements. Specific laws vary state by state, but pool fences and gates should always be strongly considered, even if not required by law. The U.S. CPSC outlines these pool barrier guidelines to keep in mind.
- The pool’s barrier should completely surround the pool.
- If local laws do not define a required height, barriers should be at least four feet high. Each entrance should have door alarms and self-closing doors with self-latching, child-proof locks.
- The space between each slat should not exceed four inches. There should be no more than four inches of space between the ground and the bottom of the pool barrier.
- Install the appropriate pool and drain covers to reduce the risk of entrapment and drowning from powerful suction.
It’s also important to be aware of pool suction entrapment and draining systems. In 2002, Virginia Graeme Baker drowned while being trapped by a hot tub draining suction. As a result, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act was passed to outline requirements for compliant drain covers and safety vacuum release systems (SVRS) to reduce the risk of suction entrapment related injuries and deaths. Make sure your safety drain covers and draining systems meet the VGB Act and CPSC requirements for better pool safety. And lastly, get familiar with any swimming programs and requirements in your area from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) for the latest on water safety.
Kids Water Safety Tips
To keep your kids safe around water at all times, follow these most common tips and best practices. Remember these tips apply to any water areas including bathtubs, toilets and large bodies of water including pools and lakes.
- Use a U.S. Coast Guard certified life jacket when you’re nearby or in pools and other water areas.
- Get CPR-certified as soon as possible. It’s one of the most common emergency rescue practices The American Red Cross offers a directory for classes in your area.
- Always assign an adult to keep an eye on children at all times when using areas with water. And make sure a lifeguard is on duty when using pools.
- Add gates, door sensors and child-proof locks to any pool doors or entrances to always be aware when anyone enters the area.
- Be aware of any drainage areas or suctions that may latch onto your child’s swimwear, hands, feet or hair. Remember to add drain covers and drainage systems to reduce this risk.
Kids water safety is a daily concern for parents, but the worries heighten during warmer months. Remember to keep U.S. CPSC guidelines and water safety equipment factors in mind. Take a look at our expert’s top water safety picks, then browse
The American Red Cross advises to never swim alone. Always make sure lifeguards or an adult is supervising. When you’re at the beach or another large body of water, be sure to understand the water conditions including any currents, temperatures, shallow water hazards and any hidden dangers such as sea animals.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends formal swimming lessons for all children aged four and up. AAP shared that by the age of four, children can hold their breath voluntarily to swim.
If a life jacket doesn’t fit properly, it will not be an effective floatation device. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that your life jacket should fit comfortably snug. Most infant life jackets fit babies weighing less than 30 pounds, while toddler life jackets fit children 30-50 pounds. Start by putting on the life jacket loosely, then secure all straps from waist to shoulder. Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommended chest and weight sizes and try on the vest before using or purchasing. If you pull the straps near the shoulder and the vest rises, then the vest is too big.