Swimming is a great activity to share with your kids, but it also poses dangers that are important to be aware of. In the United States, drowning is the leading cause of death for children. More children from ages 1 to 4 die from drowning than any other cause. Often these deaths occur in a backyard swimming pool at home. For children ages 5 to 14, drowning is the second leading cause of death, coming after death by an injury sustained in a motor vehicle crash.

A recent U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission study found a steady rise in fatal child drownings. That’s a yearly average of 379 children fatally drowning in pools and spas. This is why water safety is so important. Our Crème de la Crème team in Lone Tree has put together these water safety tips to help keep your children safe in the water.

Learn To Swim

Families in a swimming pool at a water safety class in Colorado.

First Swim Lesson by Kelly Sue DeConnick is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0

Knowing how to swim can protect your child from drowning. The USA Swimming Foundation is an excellent resource for finding low-cost or free swimming lessons in and around Thornton. You’ll just need to type in your zip code to see all the classes in your area. You can also take your child to swim lessons offered by the city of Thornton. Courses start at 6 months old, where you can join your child in the water, going up to lessons for ages 6 and over. 

Thornton also provides private lessons if you prefer your child to learn with one-on-one instruction. Does your child already know how to swim, but you want to strengthen their skills? If so, you can have them take a water test with a certified instructor to put them into the right class for their skill level.

Install a Pool Fence

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we could prevent more than half of all drowning deaths of young children with four-sided fencing. For the greatest protection, the barriers should be at least 4 feet high, and fence gates must have their latches high enough that children can’t reach them. The gates should also be self-latching and open outward.

Provide Supervision

It’s important to note that even if your child knows how to swim, vigilance on your part is still needed. Your child can slip and fall, get tired while swimming and not be able to hold themselves up, or play dangerous games in the water, such as holding their breath. Here are a few specific tips to help you provide supervision:

Designate a Water Watcher

Even kids who’ve had swimming lessons need careful supervision in any water. You should assign an adult water watcher who will not look away from the children while they’re in the water. This adult must keep a constant eye on them and should not be reading, texting, or getting distracted by a conversation or any other activity. Adults can take turns being the designated water watcher so the children are under continuous supervision.

Look For an Extra Layer of Safety

Are you taking your kids swimming at a public pool or beach? If so, try to find one with a lifeguard on duty for an extra set of eyes. They are also highly trained and can assist anyone in trouble in the water.

Avoid “Everyone Is Watching; No One Is Watching”

Suppose a gathering occurs, such as a pool party or backyard barbecue. In this case, an adult may assume that everyone else is watching the kids, so they don’t pay attention. The other adults believe the same thing, so no one watches the children in the pool. This results in everyone thinking that the children are being watched, when, in fact, no one is watching the children in the water.

Talk to Your Children About Water Safety

Teach your children to only enter the water with you or another adult guardian present. This applies to pools, spas, bathtubs, hot tubs, decorative ponds, or fountains. You can help them learn about water safety at the Kids’ Corner on Pool Safely. It features educational videos, virtual water safety games, and activities you can share with your child.

Promote Bathtub Safety

The bathtub can be as dangerous as a pool, especially for smaller children who can slip below the waterline. Never leave your child unattended in a bathtub, not even for a few minutes.

Stay Safe Around Pool Equipment

Keep kids away from drains, and make sure you cover pool drains, pipes, and other openings with safety covers that are federally approved. Outfitting your pool with these coverings is essential to prevent suction entrapment.

Use Proper Safety Devices

Only life jackets protect you in the water, so if your child isn’t a strong swimmer or is in deep water, make sure they wear a life preserver. Water wings, noodles, or inner tubes aren’t substitutes and don’t provide safety or protection from drowning. This is also true of all foam or air-filled toys. Using the proper equipment is important for water safety.

Learn CPR

Knowing CPR is imperative, as you may save your child’s life before the paramedics arrive. You can enroll in CPR training with the Red Cross near you. 

Beware of Other Risks in Natural Bodies of Water

Lakes, rivers, and oceans pose different dangers to children, as they often have hazards such as dangerous currents or waves. There may also be vegetation, rocks, and limited visibility. Weather conditions can also change rapidly, causing strong winds, dangerous flash floods, and heavy rains. Natural hazards can even include lightning strikes and thunderstorms. That’s why it’s important to check the local forecast before heading out for any activities in, on, or near water. This can include boating, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, tubing, or surfing. 

Know What Distress Looks Like in the Water

You may think that if your child is drowning, you’d hear splashing or cries for help, but this isn’t always the case, so don’t rely on such signs. Your child can slip beneath the water without a sound. Drowning can happen quickly and silently, so you must always remain vigilant and not rely on your ears to alert you to possible danger. If you’re visually impaired, ensure someone sighted is present to watch the children.

Our Crème de la Crème of Lone Tree team hopes these water safety tips are helpful when you take your child to cool down in the water this summer. Whether you’re at the local splash pad, pool, lake, or river, these tips will help everyone enjoy their time in the water while remaining safe.