Here are 10+ water safety tips every parent should know – because they could save a life.
While we can’t always choose our life experiences, we can choose how we respond to them, by
assigning an empowering or disempowering meaning.
When my son died 23 years ago, I chose to create a positive meaning from the most devastating experience of my life. I decided to carry his memory forward by speaking about water safety to kids, parents and organizations. If I could impact even one life in a positive way, I knew I had to try.
Years later, I still hear from kids and parents who remember Drew’s story and take extra care
around water. In honor of what would have been Drew’s 28th birthday – August 15 – I would like to take a
moment to share the water safety tips that can save our kids’ lives for generations to come.
Know The Facts
The first step to preventing accidental drownings is to understand the facts. According to the
CDC’s Drowning Prevention center:
● More children ages 1-4 die from drowning than any other cause.
● Drowning happens in seconds and is often silent.
● Drowning can happen to anyone, any time there is access to water.
● Drowning death rates for black children are 1.5 times higher than the rates for white
children, and higher rates of drowning occur for American Indian or Alaska Native
children than white children.
Cultivate The Mindset
Once you understand the risks that water poses to children, it’s important to use that information
to cultivate a protective yet confident mindset around water. Here are the principles I live by:
● Water safety needs to be taken seriously – always.
● All it takes is 2 inches of standing water to pose a fatal risk.
● The more barriers to water the better.
Implement The Safety Measures
These water safety tips were created with the above principles in mind. If you follow these
guidelines, you will not only cultivate a protective mindset around water, but you will also create
safe spaces for children to run, explore, and play – without the threat of drowning.
Always assign a designated water watcher.
A child can drown in less than 25 seconds – the time it takes to glance away or step inside for
just a moment. That’s why it’s imperative to have a designated water watcher whenever kids are playing near a standing body of water.
Since the water watcher is responsible for the health and safety of all the children present, they should be sober, undistracted, and a confident swimmer. Block all access to water in and around your home.
Most people think of pools, lakes, oceans, and other large bodies of water as potentially
dangerous, but they’re less likely to treat the everyday sources of water with as much caution.
However, hundreds of children have drowned in bathtubs, garden ponds, toilets, and 5-gallon
buckets, according to Seattle Children’s Hospital. That’s why it’s important to block access to
water inside your home, such as bathrooms, as well as outside your home with door locks and
Create multiple barriers to each water source.
It’s worth repeating that the more barriers to water you create, the safer your child will be from
the risk of an accidental drowning. That means each source of water inside and outside your
home needs at least two barriers.
Locks and alarms are great ways to block off access to bathrooms and the outdoors, and I highly suggest using an electronic lock and alarm system, as well as a physical lock on the top of the door. That way, your home is safe even in the event that the technology malfunctions.
Educate your kids about water safety.
While creating safe spaces in and around your home is the first step to water safety, it’s just as
important to educate children about how they can keep themselves safe around water. As a
family, discuss the rules and guidelines that will keep everyone safe. Stress the importance of
water safety, so kids understand the serious consequences that could occur.
Sign up for swim lessons as early as possible.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that all children should have swimming lessons to
help keep them safe in water. The AAP and most doctors believe children are ready to begin
lessons as young as 1 year old, which means it’s never too early to start thinking about this vital
Stay vigilant even once kids can swim.
Even if your child is a strong swimmer, it’s important to stay vigilant around water at all times.
Water wings and swimming lessons are no substitution for undistracted adult supervision. Never
trust an inflatable toy to take care of your children when you’re not around.
Water watchers should be focused and undistracted.
Even with all the safety practices in place, sometimes life happens. In the event of an accident,
a quick response is just as important as thoughtful prevention. That’s why it’s crucial to have an
undistracted water watcher who is present and focused at all times.
While the designated water watcher should have a phone nearby in case of emergencies, they should not be on their phone while kids are swimming. Also, they should be sober and capable of rescuing a child if needed.
Get a CPR certification.
In the event that a rescue response is needed, CPR may be medically necessary to help save a
child’s life. In fact, performing CPR while waiting for first responders to arrive can increase the
chance of a positive outcome. That’s why all adults should be CPR-certified, especially the
designated water watcher.
Be aware in public spaces.
Be ready to respond to any water emergency when you’re out in public. Fountains, buckets of
water, and small pools can all pose potential threats. Don’t let your guard drop just because
you’re not around a pool.
If you’re not sure where to get started, that’s what I’m here for! Please reach out if you have any
questions at all about how to keep your children safe around water. I also speak to groups, classes, and organizations about water safety, so please reach out if you are interested in a speaking engagement in the future. We can all do our part to help keep our kids safe around water.