Water Safety for Children

A high risk of water-related injuries exists in babies and children because they are mobile and curious.  Adults should provide constant and close supervision when children are near water.

Babies and children should never be left unattended in, around, or near water for even a few seconds. This includes bathtubs, toilets, pools/wading pools, and even buckets of water.

Drowning is a silent killer and can happen in as little as ten seconds with access to as little as 2.5 cm (one inch) of water. A higher risk of drowning occurs in children under the age of five.

Protect your child from drowning at home:

  • Stay with your child when you’re bathing them.
  • Never leave your baby alone in the bathtub with an older sibling. Bathtub rings are not safe for babies.
  • Never leave children unsupervised around toilets and keep toilet lids closed.

Protect your child from drowning at play:

  • Be within arm’s reach when swimming — lifejackets and water wings are not a replacement for supervision.
  • Supervise children closely around water, including lakes, rivers, ponds, wells, open postholes, and irrigation or drainage ditches.
  • Use appropriate safety equipment such as lifejackets as an extra layer of protection.
  • If you have a backyard pool or hot tub, install gate fencing around it. Fencing should be at least 120 cm (four feet) high.
  • Don’t allow underwater play in a hot tub. Hot tub and spa jets and drains can suck hair in, trapping a child underwater. Explain to children that hot tubs and spas aren’t swimming pools or places for active play.
  • Know where the pump cutoff switch is located so that it can be turned off in an emergency.


  • Learn how to swim if you don’t know how. Become certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Enroll your child into swimming lessons. Even if your child knows how to swim, never leave them alone near water. Supervision is the best way to prevent drowning.

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Last updated: 2024-03-27