How Can I Keep My Child Safe in the Pool or at a Lake?

Let's talk about keeping your wee ones safe when they're playing around water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an average of two children drown each day in America, so your safety role as a parent is crucial.1

Setting some ground rules for your child, ensuring that they never swim alone or unsupervised, and bringing the right gear to the beach are all great ways to enforce water safety for kids.

Here are some more ground rules for improving your kids’ pool safety.

1. Sign your kids up for swimming lessons

Swimming is an important survival skill and a smart way to exercise. And your kids can start enjoying it early. Did you know that kids as young as one year can start swimming lessons?

Head over to your community pool or local branch of the YMCA to sign your kids up for affordable swimming lessons. Not only will they learn how to stay safe in the water, but they'll have so much more fun.

2. Get flotation devices for your kids

Children can drown in as little as just a few inches of water, so when you’re by the pool or a lake, you should follow proper water safety protocol closely.

  • Floaties: Read labels carefully before buying arm floaties or flotation devices for your kids. You want to bring home the safest option.
  • Life jackets: Talk to your kids about why it’s important for them to wear life jackets—even if they may seem silly. You never know when a water emergency may happen, so it’s smart to prepare for anything.

3. Walk—never run—at the pool

If a lifeguard's around, you better believe they'll blow their whistles at your kids if they’re scampering around the pool—it’s easy to slip and fall on wet surfaces.

While most slips result in minor bumps and bruises, your child could hit their head and lose consciousness in a serious fall. Save your kids the screech of the pool whistle or the pain of a fall by teaching them about pool safety.

Make sure they know to walk around the pool and save the horsing around for a safer environment.

4. Have goggles handy

If your child slips underwater at the lake, it could be murky. Always keep goggles on hand so you can find your child quickly and easily in the water.

5. Establish a buddy system

If your kids are old enough to want a little independence, set up a buddy system with friends. Make sure your kids know that they’re in charge of looking out for one another and alerting an adult immediately if something happens.

6. When possible, keep kids near a lifeguard

Swimming near lifeguards means help won’t ever be too far away, and professional eyes are always watching out for your little ones. Lifeguards undergo rigorous training to receive their certification.

Depending on area requirements, some trainees learn to dive 10–12 feet underwater and retrieve a 10-pound weight. Many also have to tread water for two minutes and easily swim 300–500 yards without fatigue.

Suffice it to say, lifeguards have the training to rescue people in distress and enforce pool safety rules.

7. Use other water safety devices

There’s no such thing as being too safe around water. Consider buying some of the following water safety supplies to keep your kids secure when playing in the ocean, pool, or lake.

  • Pool alarms: Pool safety alarms come in many different styles: some monitor motion on the water’s surface, while others detect if a pool gate has been opened. Whether an animal, neighbor, or your child ventures into the pool area unsupervised, you’ll know about it.
  • Pool gates, nets, and covers: Most states have laws about fencing off pools, but even if yours doesn’t, you should still install a fence or secure pool cover at your home. Verify that whatever option you choose can bear enough weight to keep your child safe.
  • Drain covers: Drains use suction to siphon water into the filter for cleaning. If your child swims near a drain, they could get stuck. Buy a drain cover that keeps hair, bathing suits, and body parts out.
  • Wearable alarm bracelets: You can buy a GPS bracelet for your kids and set safe perimeter zones around the pool. That way, if they get too close to the water, you get an alert to save them from danger.

Final word

When you head to the pool, child safety should be a top priority. Check out our list of water safety products to find a few devices that could save your child’s life.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts,” April 2016. Accessed July 30, 2020.
John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist with over eight years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech. Before joining SafeWise in 2020, John was an editor for Top Ten Reviews specializing in home security and the smart home.