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The 2020 Kids Water Safety Guide

Dashia Starr
Updated Feb 11, 2021
4 min read
In the summertime, kids water safety becomes top of mind for parents. Here’s your family’s guide to staying safe from common dangers associated with pools, fountains and lakes.

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 Equipment to Buy

For kids, playing in the water can be fun, but safety equipment is essential to reduce the risk of drowning and other water emergencies. Our experts compiled a list of 10 safety tools to keep around the home and on vacation to help keep your family safe and prepared if danger arises. This water safety equipment was selected based on water safety standards, customer reviews and ease of use. Remember, no matter what gadgets you choose, they are to assist with watching your child, not a substitution.
  • 1. Life Saver Pool Fence

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Life Saver pool fence is easy to install and includes all materials. This pool fence kit helps protect kids from easily entering the pool with 12 feet of fencing and 5 connecting poles. The fence is made of mesh fencing and heavy gauge aluminum. The fence can include a self-closing, self-latching gate for kids water safety – sold separately. This fence comes with a limited lifetime warranty and meets U.S. CPSC standards.

    Stand-out features include

    • Stands four feet tall
    • Meets Pool & Spa Safety Law standards by the U.S. CPSC
    • Made of mesh fencing and heavy gauge aluminum
  • 2. D&D Technologies MagnaLatch Magnetic Pet & Child Safety Gate Lock & Latch

    Our rating

    Our take

    The D&D safety gate lock is childproof with a lift knob and 6-pin security lock to match other locks around the home. This magnetic latch is also equipped with easy-to-read lock status with a red light indicator. This latch can be installed on wood, metal and vinyl gates for the best water safety and protection.

    Stand-out features include

    • Made with at-a-glance lock status
    • Equipped with a child-resistant knob to prevent tampering
    • Fits gate slates from ½ – 1½ inches
  • 3. Stearns Child Classic Series Vest

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Stearns child life vest jacket is made of nylon and polyethylene foam for floatation when boating or playing in the pool. It’s designed with three adjustable straps t to fit your child securely. This life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved for children weighing 30 – 50 pounds.

    Stand-out features include

    • Meets U.S. Coast Guard standards
    • Fits children 30-50 pounds
    • Made with three adjustable belts to fit securely
  • 4. Pentair Safety Float Lines

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Pentair Safety Float Lines can be used to mark restricted water areas. It’s made of 18 feet of ⅜ poly rope and seven floats. This safety float line includes a sturdy brass hook to securely latch onto sturdy objects around the pool and securely lock in place.

    Stand-out features include

    • Made with poly rope and chrome brass
    • Measures 18 feet long
    • Includes seven floats to create an easily visible restricted area
  • 5. Jim-Buoy G-19 U.S.C.G. Approved G-Series Life Ring

    Our rating

    Our take

    This Jim-Buoy is designed to be a rescue life ring in case of water emergencies. It’s U.S. Coast Guard approved, 19-inches in diameter and holds up to 175 pounds of weight. This life ring is made of closed-cell foam to be soft, yet durable. It’s weatherproof and made to stay rot and mildew-free.

    Stand-out features include

    • Meets U.S. Coast Guard standards
    • Made to be mildew and weatherproof
    • Holds up to 175 pounds of weight
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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 Amazon’s best-selling kids’ water safety gadgets to see industry-leading water safety equipment.

Kids Water Safety FAQs


Dashia Starr avatar

Written by

Dashia Starr

Dashia researches and writes on all things home automation and security. She focuses on the latest news, products, and providers to share only the best with you.

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