Protecting Kids From Water & Drowning Hazards
Water safety is important at any age, but especially if you have babies or toddlers. Drowning can happen very quickly and in less than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of water. So, filled bathtubs, swimming pools, wading pools, hot tubs, and even buckets of water and sinks can be dangerous.
To protect kids around water:
- Never leave a baby unattended in the bath. If you must answer the phone or door, don't rely on an older sibling to watch the baby. Wrap your baby in a towel and bring them with you.
- Never leave a bathtub, bucket, or other container filled with any amount of water or other liquid unattended.
- Never use a bathtub seat or supporting ring without constant adult supervision. The seat can overturn or a baby may slip out into the water.
- Install a toilet-lid locking device and keep bathroom doors closed at all times. Or you may want to install a doorknob cover.
- If you have a pool on your property, install fencing at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) high on all sides of the pool, as well as a self-closing and self-latching gate with a lock that's out of a child's reach.
- Consider installing a pool alarm or cover, but know that these are not substitutes for fencing and adult supervision.
- Remove toys from the pool when kids are finished swimming to prevent them from trying to recover them when unsupervised.
- Inflatable flotation devices such as vests, water wings, rafts, and tubes can give a false sense of security in the pool and aren’t effective protection from drowning. Never use these as a substitute for constant adult supervision.
- Never let your child use mermaid tails or fins in the pool. These kinds of toys can make it hard to swim and lead to drowning.
- Dump out all water from a wading pool when you're finished using it.
- Remove any ladders from an above-ground pool when not in use.
- Any babysitters should be comfortable supervising your child in the pool and understand your pool rules.
- Learn CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.
- You and any caregivers should have these numbers handy in case of an emergency:
- toll-free poison-control number: 1-800-222-1222
- doctor's number
- parents' work numbers and other contact information
- neighbor's or nearby relative's number (if you need someone to watch other children in an emergency)
- Make a first-aid kit and keep emergency instructions inside.
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: August 2021
- Water Safety
- Bathroom Water Safety
- Pool Safety
- Drowning Prevention
- Choosing Safe Baby Products: Bathtubs
- Backyard and Pool: Household Safety Checklist
- Summer Safety Center
- Childproofing and Preventing Household Accidents
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995- KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.