Between 800 and 900 children per year die from drowning, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 4.
But drowning accidents don’t have to happen if you take steps to prevent them.
Read these 10 ways you can keep your child safe when in or near a swimming pool.
Implement Constant Adult Supervision
No matter what, your child needs to be constantly supervised when near or in a swimming pool. Never take for granted that someone else is watching your child; lack of supervision at a pool can lead to an accidental drowning.
Instead, if you must, designate a specific person to watch the child and make sure that person understands that you are counting on her to make sure your child is safe. It’s too easy for people to assume that someone else is watching a child, especially during family gatherings when people are distracted.
Sign Up Your Child for Swimming Lessons
Children can take swimming lessons as early as age one, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to leave them unsupervised around water.
Knowing how to swim could potentially help a child navigate in water rather than helplessly drown, but you should always have your young child within arm’s length whether she knows how to swim or not.
This isn’t only a swimming safety tip; it’s also a smart move, in general, to sign up for a CPR class. You can complete a class in less than a day.
Then, if a situation arises where someone, your child included, needs lifesaving measures after a swimming pool incident, you’ll be prepared to help.
Use Flotation Devices
Although there are plenty of floatation devices on the market, a Coast Guard-approved life jacket is the best choice for a little one’s safety. Items like inflatable floaties that attach to a young child’s arms can fail.
Floaties can lose air, which can render them less useful. If you choose to use a device that’s not Coast Guard-approved, you aren’t opting for the safest device available.
Restrict Swimming to Shallow Areas
Even if your young child knows how to swim, restrict swimming to shallow areas. In shallow areas, children more easily stand up or touch the bottom of the pool with their toes. In deep water, children can panic if they feel that they can’t touch the bottom.
Install a Fence and Locking Gate Around Your Pool
A four-foot fence with a locking gate is an excellent safety solution to keep children from straying into the pool area without supervision. Although it is an investment, nothing is more precious than a child’s life, and effectively restricting access to the pool is a way to protect your child.
As an extra precaution, you can also install a door alarm on the door leading out to the pool, which will alert you if your child tries to go outside without your permission.
Store Pool Toys When Not in Use
Most children love to have fun in the water and enjoy going in the swimming pool. Inflatable toys can make the experience even better.
However, take the time to pick up pool toys and store them after each use. Just the sight of a favorite toy floating in the pool can entice a child to want to play, even without permission.
Install a Pool Alarm
If you have a fence and gate around your pool, you can install an alarm on the gate. You can also purchase an actual pool alarm that will go off if someone enters the water. The sensitivity of the alarm can be adjusted so that not every little thing will set it out.
Remove Ladders From Above-Ground Pools
If you happen to have an above-ground pool, a simple fix to prevent children from entering the pool without permission is to remove the pool ladder.
Once the ladder is removed, small children will be unable to get into the pool unless your above-ground pool is adjacent to a deck. In that case, consider investing in a pool safety barrier, such as a fence and locking gate around the entire pool area.
Empty Portable Pools
Although a deep body of water seems more dangerous, children can drown in just a few inches of water.
Take precautions and empty portable pools — otherwise known as kiddie pools — after each use. That way, you won’t have to worry about your small children venturing out into the yard and possibly drowning.