Swimming Safety

June 24, 2002

Q:What can I do to keep my children safe in a swimming pool environment?

A: Learn to swim!

The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim; this includes adults and children.

  • Never swim alone; always teach your children to swim with a buddy.

  • Never leave a child unattended around water (pool, bucket, tub, stream, pond, etc.). An adult should be supervising the child and their eyes should be on the child at all times. Remember: An infant or toddler can drown in as little as one inch of water.

  • To prevent choking, never chew gum or eat while swimming.

  • Check the depth of water before diving in to make sure it's deep enough (a minimum depth of nine feet is recommended).

  • Watch out for the dangerous "toos" - too tired, too cold, too far from safety and too much sun.

  • Enclose pool completely with a self-locking, self-closing fence with vertical bars. Never leave furniture near the fence; a child could climb over the fence and fall into the pool.

  • Keep toys away from the pool when it is not in use. Toys can attract young children to lean into the pool.

  • Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by the pool and know how to use them. Pole, rope and personal flotation devices (lifejackets) are recommended.

  • Pool covers should always be completely removed prior to pool use.

  • Install a phone by the pool or keep a cordless phone nearby so you can call 911 in an emergency.

  • Learn CPR and have instructions, as well as 9-1-1 posted in the pool area.

Q: What should you do if you see someone who is drowning?


A: Call 911 immediately

  • If they are within throwing distance, throw a floatable object such as a life jacket, a kickboard, a gallon jug, anything that floats.

  • If they are within a reachable distance, reach for them with a pole, a rope, a tree branch, a ring buoy, a broomstick, etc. Make sure you lean back when pulling them in.

  • If you must go in after them take a flotation device with you and put it between you and them. Even a child can put an adult at risk in deep water when drowning.


Christine L. Moats is wellness coordinator at Washington County Hospital.

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