How to Keep Your Kids Safe at the Pool

A child enjoys the indoor swimming pool at the YMCA in Chester County while learning to swim at YMCA Swimming lessons.

Two kids die from drowning every day. Drowning is the leading cause of death in children 1 to 4 years old, and the second leading cause of death in children 5 to 14 years old. Most drowning deaths are preventable, which is why teaching your child how to swim through swimming lessons is essential.

The YMCA offers swimming lessons for all ages and abilities from infants to adults. 

Parents should have a conversation with their children about safety around water - even for children who are confident swimmers. Water does not discriminate - even Olympic swim meets have lifeguards. Below are some water safety tips to follow.

  1. Never go swimming alone.

    Teach your children that they should only go swimming in locations where a lifeguard is on duty.
  2. Supervise your children whenever they’re in or near water.

    Whether it is bath time or taking a dip in a pool or lake, make sure your children are within reach of you at all times. While enjoying a swim in a backyard pool or other non-lifeguarded bodies of water, have a conversation with other adults in attendance to ensure someone is always designated to watch the water. Never assume.

    While near or around bodies of water with a lifeguard, keep in mind that the lifeguards are trained to keep their eyes on the water and not the surrounding areas. 
  3. Don’t engage in breath-holding activities.

    Children shouldn’t hold their breath for a prolonged amount of time while swimming, as this can cause drowning and has several other severe physical side-effects. 
  4. Wear a Life Jacket. 

    Inexperienced or non-swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Read our piece on Puddle Jumpers here. 
  5. Don’t jump in the water to save a friend who is struggling in deep water.

    If a child finds their friend in deep water unexpectedly, their natural reaction may be to jump in the water to try to save them. Even if a child is a great swimmer, a panicked person will overpower them, pulling them underwater with them.

    The YMCA’s Safety Around Water program teaches the “reach, throw, don’t go” concept of using a long object to reach for them and pull them to safety. By using this technique, children can help their friend without compromising their own safety.
  6. Purchase neon or other bright colored swimsuits.

    Did you know the color of your swimsuit could help to save your life? Neon and other brightly colored (not blue) swimsuits are more visible under the water helping lifeguards and others identify people in the water - especially in rough, moving or splashing water. 
  7. Enroll your children in water safety or swimming lessons.

    Just like teaching your children to look both ways before they cross the street, having them participate in formal water safety or swimming lessons teaches them an important life skill - how to swim. 

Learn more about programs offered by the Y to ensure your family always stays safe around water.