Water Safety for Children

Babies and children are at high risk of water-related injuries because they are mobile, curious and require constant, close supervision by an adult.

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 10 seconds with access to as little as 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water. Children under five years old are particularly vulnerable.

Here are some ways you can help 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.
  • Keep toilet lids down and make sure that children are never left alone around toilets.

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 gated fencing around it. Fencing should be at least 120 cm (4 ft.) 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.

Services related to this information:

811 HealthLine (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555

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Last updated: 2021-10-01