Who doesn’t love summertime in New Jersey? Whether you spend your days on a bayside beach or beside your backyard pool, make loads of happy memories near the water this year. With our guide, you’ll learn the do’s and don’ts of water safety for children. We’ve compiled this list of tips to help you prepare to splash into this season of fun in Bridgewater.

Enroll Kids in Swimming Lessons

Baby floating in safety pool.
Image via Flickr by donnierayjones Licensed CC BY 2.0

Kids are curious and it just takes a second for them to slip past a pool gate. That’s why the pediatricians at HealthyChildren.org suggest enrolling them in swimming lessons as young as 12 months. Remember that children develop differently, so some kids take to the water younger, and some need more time to build their comfort level in the pool.

Knowing how to swim is an important life skill that could help prevent drowning, and it’s not just for kids. Parents and other caretakers, like the babysitter, need to know how to swim too. You may have to dive in and save the day in an emergency, and the best way to learn is with an organized lesson program taught by a certified instructor.

So prepare everyone in the family for some fun in the sun and enroll in a class. Your newest swimmers will learn water survival skills like floating, kicking, and paddling, while more experienced kids can try out more advanced techniques, like the front crawl. Parent and baby water play classes help your infant get used to the water and may boost their confidence, while big kids learn the tools they need to safely enjoy the water independently. Sign up for local courses near home at:

Watch Kids Around Water

One of the most important rules of swimming is to always watch your kids around water. An adult should always stand duty, keeping their full attention on the pool, even if everyone can swim. The supervisor must make a point to avoid distractions, like a phone or even a book. Because accidents happen so quickly, even a few minutes with your eyes on the pages could be too long.

If your children are very young or just learning to swim, consider getting into the water and playing with them. Keeping kids within your arm’s reach will ensure that you can get to them quickly if they go under for any reason. Schedule group bathroom breaks and snack runs with the kids. That way, everyone gets out of the water and goes together.

Teach Kids to Get Permission

Swimming is one activity that no one should do alone, not even adults, and especially never children. That’s why it’s essential to teach your children that they must get permission before they head to the pool. When they know the risks and dangers associated with swimming, they’ll understand the need for supervision. When they do come asking, make sure you have the time to dedicate to the task. Otherwise, it’s best to plan another time for this potentially dangerous activity.

Use Age-Appropriate Flotation Devices

The U.S. Coast Guard requires all children in New Jersey, 13 and younger, to wear a life jacket on boats and while water skiing. In addition to these federal regulations, you might want to purchase an age-appropriate personal floatation device to use at the pool. Choosing the right one is crucial because you want the right size and type for your child and activity.

If your child is a novice swimmer, they may only need armbands, while a beginner may want the security of a life vest. Remember that most inflatable items, like inner tubes, are toys, not safety devices. Even armbands can deflate or prevent your child from lifting their head out of the water. Parent.com suggests you select a Coast Guard-approved jacket for children depending on activity and water conditions, including:

  1. Offshore life jacket (rough or open seas and remote waterways).
  2. Near-shore buoyant vest (calm water and general boating).
  3. Flotation aid (pools and extended wear).

Introduce Infant Self-Rescue Swimming Skills

Infant Swimming Resource provides survival swim lessons for babies and children up to 6 years. Its revolutionary program teaches kids self-rescue techniques, like turning on their backs, floating, and staying there until help comes. Older children learn to swim, roll on their backs, rest when they need air, and then continue swimming until they reach the pool steps or shoreline.

Knowing these skills can significantly reduce the chance of drowning if they accidentally fall into the water and gives kids the knowledge to save themselves in an emergency. If you decide to sign your family up for an infant self-rescue swimming course, Nina Vartanian in Manalapan Township provides private lessons, or check out the company’s website for a list of instructors by location.

Encourage Safe Play 

Spending the day on the beach or poolside is one of the best things about summer. Kids burn off energy running, chasing, and playing with friends, and most public aquatics facilities ban this behavior because it’s easy to slip on wet surfaces and fall. Even if a lifeguard is on duty, remind your kids to walk around the water.

Warn children to look before they leap too. Not every pool is deep enough for diving, and plunging headfirst into the shallow end is dangerous. Consider teaching your kids to enter the water feet-first to avoid bumping their head, or better yet, suggest they carefully climb down the stairs or ladder every time they enter and exit the pool.

So, there you have it. Creme de la Creme of Bridgewater shared this list of water safety tips for you and your family. What do you think of our ideas? Let us know if we forgot your family’s tried-and-true way to stay safe around water this summer. Send us a note so we can add your ideas to our next guide.