swimming pool safety

Parenting • May 23, 2013

Swimming Pool Safety for Kids | Water Safety Tips

The weather is warming up, the school year is winding down, and I can all but smell the chlorine. Soon, the familiar sounds of kids playing in the water will fill the air. But before you buy this year’s bathing suits and check last year’s water wings for holes, take some time to brush up on pool safety. Here are five tips I swear by, as a mom, as a pediatrician, and as the owner of a house with a backyard pool.


  1. Supervise – If you’ve read my article on drowning prevention, this piece of advice will come as no surprise. According to the CDC, for every child in the United States who drowns, five other children receive emergency room care for injuries suffered in a swimming pool. Watch your children. Even if you’re at a pool with a lifeguard, watch your children. And I know this won’t be popular, but watching your child also means eliminating distractions. Put down the book; wait to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. A child can slip under water so quickly and drown with very little commotion. No one will keep as watchful an eye on your child as you will.
  2. Enroll in Swim Lessons – You can start as early as 6 months, but those first few years of swim lessons are mostly to help your child develop a comfort level with water. At age 4, they can really start to learn the techniques that will make them good swimmers.
  3. Learn CPR – When you sign your child up for swim lessons, why not sign up for lessons yourself? Many community organizations offer CPR classes, including St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Empower yourself to help save your own child or someone else’s. While you are at the pool, know where the nearest charged phone is located so you can access it if you need to call for help.
  4. Slather on Sunscreen – I have seen so many children in the emergency unit with sunburns so bad their skin blistered. Be sure to apply a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 and don’t forget to reapply. Pediatric dermatologist Dr. Carrie Coughlin has some advice about what kind of sunscreen to buy and how much to apply.
  5. Make Rules – We always had kids coming over to swim and have hosted a lot of pool parties, so we had a four-sided fence and a set of rules that I made sure was enforced as strictly as possible. Our top three pool rules:
          • No running or rough-housing
          • Go in feet first to know how deep the pool is
          • No one swims alone

Disclaimer: This post was updated on 5/11/2018 to reflect current pediatric recommendations.


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