How to Avoid Accidents in the Water Involving Children

Beaches and swimming pools are children's favorite summertime attractions. However, it is necessary to pay attention to preventive measures. Take note of these recommendations to avoid accidents in the water.
How to Avoid Accidents in the Water Involving Children

Last update: 28 July, 2022

Children love to swim at beaches, swimming pools, and lakes. But it’s important to take some preventive measures in order to avoid accidents in the water involving children.

It should be noted that these incidents in the aquatic environment are very frequent and occur even when parents are present. It’s not uncommon for adults to relax their supervision or not exercise any vigilance at all over infants for a few minutes.

Swimming pools are the most dangerous scenario, especially private pools. On the other hand, public swimming pools have trained personnel to take care of swimmers and help them in case of accidents.

That’s why, if you’re going to vacation somewhere with pools or fountains, watch your children very well both inside and outside them. Take note of these tips!

The most common accidents at beaches and pools

There are different types of accidents that your child can suffer in swimming pools, beaches, or lakes. However, the most common of all is drowning.

According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death in the world and infants are the most at-risk population. The highest rates of death by immersion correspond to children aged 1 to 4 years, followed by those aged 5 to 9 years.

Another frequently reported accident is muscle injuries or fractures caused by falls into swimming pools or by a bad jump on the diving board. In some cases, these injuries can cause death, and in others, they can leave severe neurological and motor sequelae.

On the other hand, at beaches, children run the risk of being attacked by marine species, such as mollusks, sea spiders, sea lice, or manta rays, among others.

Children jumping in a pool.
Warning parents of these dangers is of utmost importance, due to their high frequency and preventable nature. It’s key to educate children so they act safely in the aquatic environment and to pay attention to their behavior.

Measures to avoid accidents in the water involving children

Children have no notion of danger, and it’s your mission as a parent to take care of them. For that reason, today we’re going to give you some advice to prevent accidents in the water.

1. Watch your child all the time

The main recommendation to avoid accidents in the water involving children is to watch them inside and outside the swimming pool at all times, especially if they’re under five years old. A small child can lose their life at a depth of fewer than 10 inches, even if the child knows how to swim. So don’t let your child out of your sight for a second.

2. Don’t let your child run near the water

Don’t let your child run or walk near the edges of the pool, as they could fall in and drown or get a sharp blow that could cause a fracture.

3. Teach your child to swim from an early age

Teach your child to swim from a very young age, both as a survival method and as a sport. This will contribute to their physical health and will give you much more confidence when they play in the water.

4. Use flotation devices

Use flotation devices appropriate for the child’s age and context (arm floaties, life jackets, boards, or inflatable rings). This will give you peace of mind, while allowing your child to play, have fun and enjoy the pool or beach. Keep in mind, however, that not all accessories are suitable for all children and all environments.

5. Check the depth of the pool

If your child dives headfirst into the pool, check the depth of the pool to avoid accidents. It should be large enough for the child to swim and float.

Keep in mind that children are reckless and take many risks when they dive off the edge or off a diving board.

6. Wear non-skid flip-flops

When your child gets out of the water, put non-skid shoes or flip-flops on them so they won’t slip around the perimeter of the pool. In addition, this footwear protects their feet from fungi that thrive on wet surfaces.

7. Put on a life jacket

A boat ride will seem very exciting and fun for your child, but make sure they put on a life jacket. Both children and adults should wear life jackets and it’s mandatory to wear them as part of the boat equipment, according to maritime regulations.

8. Avoid the most common infections

Make the necessary medical controls before taking your child to a swimming pool, as they could catch or spread a common skin, eye, or ear infection.

As a good strategy, offer them a shower with soap and water before and after diving into the pool, have them use swimming goggles, and if they suffer from frequent ear infections, ask your doctor about the convenience of using earplugs.

9. Don’t leave your baby unattended

Don’t leave your baby unattended or in the care of a child near water. It only takes 20 seconds for a small child to drown or suffer the consequences associated with this type of accident.

10. Teach your child to follow orders

Teach your child to pay attention and follow the orders of lifeguards. Talk to them about the risks they run if they don’t do so and the preventive measures they should follow to avoid accidents in the water.

11. Learn the CPR technique

Learn the cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) technique that combines mouth-to-mouth breathing and chest compressions. This practice is life-saving for both children and adults. It’s also good to carry a first aid kit with you.

A girl standing outside of a safety gate around a pool.
The use of protective pool fencing is a very important preventive strategy. However, children should still be educated about the risks of playing near water.

12. Place fences around the pool

If the pool is in your home, install fences around it. These should be at least 4 feet high and have a maximum separation of 4 inches between the bars. Also, they should have latches or elements that keep the gates closed.

13. Pay attention to the tide

At the beach, pay attention to the tide and the alarm signals in case of waves. Don’t allow your child to go into the deep water or near rocky areas. Upon arrival at the site, ask if there have been any incidents in recent days with marine species, such as mollusks, sea spiders, sea lice, among others.

With proper care, risks are reduced

Children’s accidents in the water are preventable. Follow these recommendations and both you and your child will enjoy an incredible vacation at the beach or pool this summer.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.