Water And Kids – Safety First

Posted by   Leigh Gilburn   |   Categories :   myhealthymunchkins.com

We all know how excited kids get around an opportunity to jump in the water and start splashing around. It is just a given that kids are going to want to get into the water with other kids and it doesn’t matter if they can swim or keep their little heads above the surface of not. Water is fascinating. When water and kids comes to our minds, safety first then fun can begin. The most important thing we as parents always desire to do is keep our children safe around water. We don’t want them to drown due to not knowing how to swim, exposure to cold water with or without swimming skills or no flotation device on or all of the above. Water is a blast for kids but is also very deadly when we least expect it. It only takes a few seconds of not looking, being engaged in a conversation with another adult or tending to another child when our backs are turned for something life-changing to occur. The loss of life, one cut short way before it’s time.



All types of bodies of water are potential hazards for our children, pools in the back yard, ponds, and oceans that lure them from the fun sun drenched sandy beaches. Most children are mesmarized by the water naturally, curious about its appearance, color and ever changing qualities if around the ocean and waves unaware of the power of the undertow and danger of the water that simultaneously draws them towards it.

If there’s one thing that I take seriously as a parent, it’s safety around water with my munchkins. Water and kids-safety is alway my first priority. It doesn’t matter if your kids know how to swim or not, anyone can end up in a life threatening situation that ends in death.

We all need to follow a few simple tips/rules when our kids are around water. If we have children, it’s always a good idea to take a CPR class (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). If you have middle school aged children, they can also take a class and learn. They may save a life with these skills. My 11 yr old is now interested in learning CPR and we are signing him up for a class soon. He knows the basics as both of his parents are in the health profession, but learning more from a CPR instructor will be even better for knowledge retention in this area. He loves learning in a formal setting. All child care providers need to learn CPR period. One bit of advice that is always number 1 on the list of tips is Always Supervise children around water, a pool, the ocean, a hot tub etc, as even if flotation devices are being used, things can change quickly into an emergency in action. We sometimes as adults go out with friends and have a designated driver so everyone gets home safely, so we should do the same when we are together around water of any kind. If you can’t be there, make sure someone you trust is looking out after your kids while in or around the water.

I have personally been in an 8-foot round pool in my own back yard 3 feet deep with my 5 year old son when he did a backward flip under water got disoriented and couldn’t figure out how to come back up to the surface. I was in an inflatable chair in the pool, too much time went by, I suddenly jumped out of the chair, looked down reached and grabbed him upwards to see a panicked little boy who was very close to drowning right in front of me. That is how fast things can go wrong. Never put confidence in water wings, noodles and other typical pool toys to keep kids safe in the water. Kids 4 and under should be within reach of an adult who knows how to swim at all times. Teach all of your children to swim, get them involved in swim lessons and then make sure they have coast guard approved flotation vests on when on any kind of boat, kayak, or canoe. I used to make my kids wear them on the edge of a pond or lake while we fished from the banks just in case I turned around to tendto fishing bait and one of them stepped or fell into the water. At least that way there was an edge of safety until I could get to them. Most children can learn how to swim once they are around 4-5 yrs old depending on their individual skill and development. Please never assume that kids are safe in the water just because they know how to swim, supervision is always required.

Another tip is avoid alcohol when boating, watching kids play in the water or while swimming yourself. Hot tubs plus alcohol can quickly turn into trouble due to the dehydration effects of alcohol and the heat from the hot tub making relaxation too extreme, and people drift off asleep and drown.

If you have a hot tub, pool at your home then keep it safe and put a fence around it. Minimum height is 4 feet tall made in such a way that children can’t easily climb it and the gate opens away from the pool and the gate handle is high enough that small children can’t reach it. A six-foot fence is even better with no more than 2-3 inches above the ground surface at the bottom. The gate should be self-closing and latching with alarms installed so you know when someone is going into the pool area. You can also put a floating pool alarm in the water so movement in the pool will set it off. Again these alarms are not a substitute for direct supervision of children around water. Covers for hot tubs and pools should be motorized, rigid and some lockable for security while away from home. If the covers are not rigid water can at times of rain collect making for an unsafe situation if someone wandered into the pool area by accident. All ladders need to be locked up behind gated areas and never left in the pool unless part of the permanent structure.

Remember that if small children are playing around pool or hot tub drains, hair and small body parts can get trapped by suction in the drain. There are usually drain covers that can be used. Always keep handy emergency equipment such as flotation rings with ropes attached and long poles with a crook on the end. It’s a good idea to always remove toys from pools so kids are not tempted to reach for them, thus putting them at risk of falling into the water. When enjoying your pool with the kids, always have a phone around so you can call 911 if needed instead of the terrible situation of making a decision to go after our kid in the water who is in trouble then having to run in the house to call for help. This delays help arriving when seconds count. See guardian fence here https://guardianpoolfence.com/

How To Safely Introduce Kids To Water

In the early months, taking baths with your bundles of joy is a great way to introduce them to the warm water with a soft receiving blanket wrapped around them to help them stay warm as the water cools off. It’s a wonderful time together.

As they get old enough to start grabbing for toys while in the bath tub, put some floating toys in the water and a few little plastic cups and they will have a blast, again, with you in the tub holding them and playing fun games together. I used to fill a small cup with water and play a game called “waterfall” where I would ever so slowly pour the water over their heads or in front of them into the tub water or into their outstretched hands. Smiles appear and they begin to trust being in the water with you being their safety ring. Bath time is one of my kids favorite times of the evening. By 4-5 years old, showers are possible also together for a bit of encouragement with water coming at them from a different position. A bit more intimidating at times I might add. Count with them on their little toes and fingers and write on the tub and walls do art and laugh together. Some of my fondest memories are being in the tub with my munchkins, then as the water cooled off handing themto their other parent to dry off and continue with the bedtime routine. Slowly let them get used to the water while holding them close and they will be little fishes before you know it.


Supervising Your Kids Around Water



All Kids need constant supervision around water — whether the water is in a bathtub, a wading pool, an ornamental fishpond, a swimming pool, a spa, the beach, or a lake. Young children are especially at risk — they can drown in less than 2 inches(6 centimeters) of water. I recall getting a call from a grandmother who had left her 18 month old grand daughter in the tub with 6 inches of water in it, came back 5 minutes later to a dead child.

To ensure water safety in a home pool or spa:

  1. Fence it in. Install a fence at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall that separates the pool area from the house and yard. https://guardianpoolfence.com/
  1. Install alarms on doors leading out to the pool and those that float on water surface that go off when movement is sensed in the water.
  2. Block pool and hot tub access.
  3. Remove toys from pool so kids aren’t tempted to go in after them.
  4. Beware of drains so body parts and hair are not entrapped where the suction is highest.
  5. Keep emergency equipment handy. See more detail above about flotation rings and long poles with hooks on the end to help grab someone out of the pool.

Water safety: Protect your child from drowning

Most children are drawn to water. It’s sparkly. Things float in it. It’s fun to splash. But water safety is no laughing matter. Anyone can have a water-related accident — even children who know how to swim. To keep your children safe in and near the water, follow these rules-

General water safety

To reduce the risk of drowning in any swimming environment:

  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Parents and child care providers should know CPR.
  • Supervise. Never leave children unsupervised near a pool, hot tub or natural body of water. During gatherings, adults who know how to swim can take turns being the “designated watcher,” who isn’t distracted. Children under-age 4 should be supervised at arm’s length, even if they can swim. Don’t rely on air-filled or foam toys, such as water wings, noodles or inner tubes, to keep children safe.
  • Teach children to swim. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most children age 4 and older can learn to swim. Children ages 1 to 4 might be able to learn depending on their physical and emotional development. Swimming lessons, however, don’t necessarily prevent drowning and aren’t a substitute for adult supervision.
  • Avoid alcohol. This just isn’t safe and doesn’t allow you to resond quickly if someone is in trouble in the water.

Residential swimming pools and spas

To ensure water safety in a home pool or spa:

  • Fence it in. Install a fence at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall that separates the pool area from the house and yard. The fence shouldn’t block the view of the pool from outside the fenced area. Vertical slats on fences should have gaps

Safe Water Flotation VS Unacceptable Ones

Teaching kids to swim can be a challenging task, especially when they feel restricted by their flotation devices. Postmaster offers one of the least-restrictive training vests for kids.

Check out the poolmaster swimming vest here.

Key Features:

  • Lightweight training for kids ages 3-6
  • Height up to 45”, weight up to 45 pounds
  • Contoured body with open sides
  • Adjustable body and center straps with buckles

  • All-around buoyancy and nylon shell over closed-cell foam flotation elements
  • Water safety is a concern year-round for every parent, especially at bath time when busy bedtime routines can take a parent out of the bathroom for a few seconds or minutes. But in the summer, it becomes more important than ever. Most kids want to be swimming and splashing around outside while child care providers/parents want to make sure their families are safe in the water.

The good news is that there are a good deal of innovative water safety products to help parents keep their families safe in the water. While no water product can replace an attentive parent or a certified lifeguard, using these safety products can give parents a little more peace of mind when spending time in and near the water with their families and friends.

Best Water Safety Products for Kids and Families

From the pool to the bathtub, here are 35 of the best water safety products available to keep water time safe and fun for the whole family.

Power Swimmer System – Medium, by SwimWays

Swim Ways

Not all swim products have been endorsed by an Olympic gold medalist, but this one has. Josh Davis, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, supports this swim system that is designed for kids ages 3 to 6 and who weigh approximately 35 to 55 pounds. The system grows with your child, as the foam plates can be removed one by one until she is swimming all by herself. Take a look on amazon here.

Key Features:

  • Designed for kids who are ready to swim
  • The system allows for gradual decrease of flotation pads, allowing for swimming support at the child’s own readiness levels
  • Hidden pockets keep flotation pads secure
  • Adjustable cords create a snug fit that enhances child’s confidence

Water Gear Back Float, Progressive Split Float

Water Gear

As young swimmers become more skilled at swimming, they often do not want to be hindered by floats around their waist and arms. Water Gear offers a solution with its Back Float, featuring a Progressive Split Float.

Key Features:

  • Soft, comfortable, closed cell EVA foam that will not absorb water or chip
  • Easily buckles on back
  • Frees arms for proper motion while swimming
  • Split design allows adjustment as swimmer progresses
  • see it on amazon here .

Stearns Kids Puddle Jumper Deluxe Life Jacket


Designed for kids between 30 to 50 pounds, the Puddle Jumper Deluxe Life Jacket is perfect for kids who are learning how to swim and getting comfortable and confident in the water. Because the life jacket will not ride up around kids’ necks, they are more comfortable while swimming or learning to swim.

Take a look – this has been one of my children’s favorite over the last 3 years. See it here.

Key Features:

  • Patent pending design keeps kids’ faces up and out of the water
  • Softer woven polyester fabric cover reduces chafing
  • US Coast Guard approved, Type III Performance


  • Swim School Deluxe Tot Trainer see it here.       water-and-kids
  • For kids that need head support when in the water for safety see this option at amazon here.

Teaching kids independence – First time at the pool alone

My two oldest boys 10 and 12 have been going to the swimming pool since they were 3 years old. Teaching the boys water confidence and eventually to swim was really important to me and watching them excel on the swim team has been an awesome experience but watching them run out of the summer cottage on a lake and just jump into the water every morning before breakfast on summer holiday was a moment I’ll never forget.

It marked a time when I was confident that they could swim by the dock safely while I watched from the back deck with my coffee in hand. I was watching closely as usual but it really felt nice for me and for them to be out together swimming and splashing about without a care in the world.

Then back at home, the boys packed their own swimming bags, checked in and out of YMCA pools and got themselves dressed and put their things into a locker whenever we did that type of swimming since age 8 and 10 years of age.

They are both pretty competent swimmers and look out for one another in the pool. A lifeguard is on duty at all times. I must say that leaving them at a public pool without direct supervision from me is out of the question. Crowds in the summer pools makes lifeguard supervision less than optimum.

They even unpack all of their wet gear once back at home, put swim trunks in the sink with soap to get chlorine out (as they last longer that way) and shower and dress again. Little men they are becoming for sure. So I feel comfortable with letting them do things on their own at the YMCA pool with a lifeguard on duty from about the age of 8-9. This has to be a judgement call bases on your individual child’s level of maturity and sense of responsibility.


Before You Throw The Baby Out With The Bathtub…:)

Here is a cool book to consider.  Get yours here.Watch Out water safety book

Sometimes, the best strategy for keeping kids safe is to rely on the old tried-and-true method of learning to read to them about it. In this book by Claire Llewellyn and illustrated by Mike Gordon, kids learn the importance of learning to swim and the safety rules surrounding pools, the beach and open boats.

Key Features:

  • Brief passages for easy understanding by younger children
  • Colorful, cartoon-style illustrations on every page
  • Clearly written


Don’t forget a life preserver for your family dog. Check it out below the picture.


Check out doggie vests here. I’ve used this vest on about 4 of my 30 dogs over the last 12 years. Why not on all of them? Well because most of them were sled dogs and they didn’t need them. These vests are awesome and make it easy to grab your dog out of the water if needed. It’s that secure when on the dog. 
































Hope you enjoyed the post today. Please leave comment below, a story about your kids, or a question and I will reply to you in 12-24 hrs. Take care and Safety first. Fun follows. Memories are forever.

Dr. Leigh Gilburn

December 10, 2017

2 thoughts on “Water And Kids – Safety First

  • As a mom of four, water safety is super important. I sometimes am less vigilant with my older 3 kids (in their teens) than I am with my five year old. I totally had a little mommy-panic reading about the suction/drains. It hadn’t even dawned on me that my daughter’s hair could get caught. Definitely something I need to keep in mind, and make sure she’s aware of, too. Thank you!

    • Yes the suction/drain issue is one that isn’t talked about enough when water safety is discussed with parents. Life guards are educated about it usually. I’m glad you found the information useful being a mom of four. I’m still trying to get my youngest three water safe with yet more swimming lessons at the age of 4,5 and 7. They will likely need another years of lessons as they aren’t always around a pool or place to swim, but here’s hoping soon. Happy New Year and thank you for your comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *