Swimming Safety Tips for Parents & Kids

Beating the heat and having fun this summer may mean lots of time spent swimming with your kids. Before getting in the pool, it’s important to know about swimming safety and take appropriate precautions to prevent accidents and injuries.

“Keep in mind, drowning is silent,” Chris Vitale, RN, MSN, injury prevention manager at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh says. “Children younger than four should be within arm’s reach of an adult at all times, and children over the age of four, even if they know how to swim, should always have an adult’s eyes on them.”


In addition to watching your children closely, follow these tips to keep your family safe this summer:

  • Never let your child swim during a storm
  • Do not use water wings or other pool toys as life jackets
  • Make sure you and your child know how deep the water is
  • No jumping in water less than nine feet deep; no diving unless the depth is 12 feet or more
  • Never chew gum or eat in the water
  • Learn CPR and keep a first aid kit, phone, and emergency numbers near the water
  • All children older than 4 should complete a swimming class
  • No running, pushing, or dunking
  • Remove all toys from the water after swimming
  • Use extra caution when swimming in the ocean
  • Do not let your child swim in rivers

If you have a family pool, it is also important to:

  • Make sure you can clearly see the pool from your house
  • Have a five-foot high fence surrounding the entire perimeter of the pool and make sure all handles and gates are child-proof
  • Install the pool cover according to the instructions
  • Keep all electrical items away from the pool
  • Store pool chemicals according to the instructions and away from children

These safety tips, plus close adult supervision, are key to preventing swimming accidents this summer, says Barbara Gaines, MD, director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program.

“Parents need to supervise their children at all times or a day at the pool could end in tragedy,” Dr. Gaines says. “Remember, any container of water, from a bucket to a swimming pool, poses a potential risk to kids.”

Put your family’s swimming safety knowledge to the test: take the Water Safety Quiz with your children.