Water Safety for Kids: What Parents Need to Know


It’s the hottest time of the year and school is out, which means kids are going to be spending a lot of time in the water. Dr. Scott Wallace, a physician with Renown Pediatrics, provides some important water safety tips for little swimmers.

Summertime and water fun go hand-in-hand, but there are important safety tips to remember, especially when it comes to kids. We asked Scott Wallace, M.D., for some water safety tips to consider before kids dive in.

What should parents know to keep their child safe in the water this summer?

If your child is in or around water, make sure that either you or another adult is watching them free from distractions. And if your child is younger or doesn’t know how to swim, try to stay within arm’s reach. And even if your child does know how to swim, it’s still important to make sure they are supervised and have someone in the pool with them.

If you have a pool in the backyard, install a fence around it. The fence should enclose all sides of the pool, be at least 4 feet tall and have self-closing and self-latching gates.

And if you use one of the smaller kiddie pools in the backyard during the summer, make sure you empty it after it’s used and store it upside down so it doesn’t collect water.

It also helps keep your kids safe if they know how to swim. Enroll them in swim classes when you think they’re ready for it.

If something does happen, it’s good to know CPR — it could save a child’s life.

What about water safety on Lake Tahoe?

If you’re having a day at the beach, the same rules apply as the swimming pool: Make sure children are supervised at all times and that you are in the water with them. Ensure your child knows that swimming in a lake or river is different from swimming in a pool because of currents, rocks and uneven surfaces.

And don’t let them go out too far; the currents are stronger than you think and there are a lot of sudden drop offs.

If you’re going out on the water on any type of boat — from kayaks to canoes to motorboats — kids need to wear a life jacket. And before you go out on the water, make sure their life jackets fit by having them raise their arms above their heads: If the life jacket hits their ears or chin, it’s probably too big and the straps need to be tightened.

Infants and younger kids are at a higher risk for hypothermia, so be prepared with a blanket or towel in case they start shivering.

What Are Some Tips for Teaching Kids About Water Safety?

Let your kids know that they should never go swimming without an adult supervising them and staying with them in the pool.

Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool: They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, undertow and changing weather. Families should be extra vigilant around our area rivers. Many rivers are running extra high, fast and cold, so it’s best to stay away from these swift-moving and dangerous waters.

What About Water Safety at Home?

Especially for young children, the bathtub is the main place you want to be extra vigilant. Never leave your child in the bathtub alone — be present in the bathroom with them at all times. Impress upon babysitters the importance of staying with young ones during bath time. Also, keep toilet lids closed with seat locks. And keeping the bathroom door closed is a good idea too.