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Water Safety Checklist

Children love to play in water, but water-related activities carry with them several hazards. Help families recognize the hazards and learn how to safeguard their children in and out of the home.

 Why help families learn about water safety?
  • In 2005, of all children who died between the ages of 1 and 4, almost 30 percent died from drowning.
  • For every child who dies from drowning, four more receive emergency room care for injuries caused by being under water.
  • Drownings that are not fatal can still cause brain damage that can lead to memory problems and learning disabilities.
  • Children can drown in bathtubs, toilets, sinks, buckets, wells and pools, and natural bodies of water such as ponds, lakes, rivers, and the ocean.
  • Young children can drown in as little as 1 to 2 inches of water.
  • Most young children who drown were in the care of one or both parents at the time and had been out of sight for less than 5 minutes.


To inform families about the hazards in water-related activities and how to keep children safe around water



Make one copy of "Water Safety and Your Family" for each child.


  1. Call children into a large group and help them brainstorm a list of places they would find water. (Lists will vary but may include: swimming pools, bathtubs, sinks, toilets, watering cans, flower pots, puddles, creeks, streams, ponds, lakes, and oceans.)

  2. Have them discuss whether there is a lot or a little water in each place. Talk about being careful around water, even if there is only a little.

  3. Distribute "Water Safety and Your Family" to each child. Have the students take home the handout. Tell them they will be going on a water safety hunt with their families so that everyone will learn how to stay safe around water.

Optional Activity for Older Students:
  1. After brainstorming, ask the students to discuss the water safety rules they already know to obey. For example:
    • "Never swim alone."
    • "Don't play around the creek without an adult."
    • "Never climb around the fountain and pool in the park."
    • "Keep the toilet lid down for your baby brother."
  2. Have the students work in teams to turn their rules into water safety posters, using construction paper and art supplies. Hang these around the room and invite parents to join the class for a water safety meeting. Distribute "Water Safety and Your Family" to families at the meeting.


  • From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  • "Water Safety" from KidsHealth describes in detail how to keep kids safe in water in the home, in a pool, and in natural bodies of water and includes what to do in an emergency.

Water Safety and Your Family

It is important to stay safe in water, no matter where the water is found: bathtubs, sinks, pails, pools, or the beach. Here are a few tips to help you make sure your children are safe wherever there is water:

  • Supervise children AT ALL TIMES when they are around water. In most cases, children who drowned between the ages of 1 and 4 were out of sight less than 5 minutes. An adult, not another child, must supervise.
  • Don’t get distracted. Other activities, even a short telephone call, can take your attention away from your children. ALWAYS keep your eyes on children in or near water.
  • Get rid of standing water in and around your home. This means emptying pails and bath water inside and draining water that may have collected in equipment or machinery from a hard rain outside.
  • Close off children’s access to water. This applies to bathrooms as well as backyard pools. Apartment complexes and community pools ought to be fenced to keep out unsupervised kids.
  • Teach rules for water behavior and be clear about the consequences for breaking those rules.
  • Do not rely on water wings, inner tubes, and other air-filled and foam toys to keep your child safe.
  • Teach your child to swim. You can teach very young children how to swim, but the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend that you rely on that as the "primary means of drowning prevention."
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Knowing CPR can be invaluable in case of an accident because it will take several minutes for paramedics to get to you.

Water Safety Checklist

Use this checklist with your children, as you walk around your home, inside and outside, to guard against water hazards and help your family stay safe.

Bathroom and Indoor Safety
Bath water can be as dangerous as pool water for an unsupervised child.

  • An adult must supervise a bath, not another child.
  • Keep the lid down on the toilet.
  • Keep the bathroom door closed and teach others in the home to do the same.
  • Be careful when using hot water, especially with children under 5 years old because their skin is still very thin and they scald easily.
  • Keep electrical equipment (e.g., hair dryers) away from the water to avoid electrocution.

Outdoor Safety
Water can collect in holes, ditches, and toys (e.g., wagons) and, of course, in wells.

  • Be aware of standing water directly outside and near your home.
  • Fill in holes in the ground.
  • Empty standing water from buckets and other utensils/toys that can hold water.
  • Place covers over wells and hot tubs.
  • Watch children at all times when they are playing near ditches.

Pool Safety
Watch children closely at all times, whether they are in the pool or sitting on the side. The difference between being in the pool or not is only a matter of seconds.

  • Flotation devices are not a substitute for constant supervision.
  • Be aware of the ages of other children in the pool.
    • Roughhousing older children can easily knock younger children under water without realizing it.
    • Diaper-wearing children should be using waterproof diapers because leaky diapers release bacteria into the water. If your child swallows the water, he or she could have nausea and diarrhea.
  • All pools must have a fence or some other barrier around them to keep out unsupervised children.
  • WATCH THE WEATHER! If lightning starts, get the children out of the pool—fast.

Water Safety Rules
As with all rules, state clearly the behavior that you expect from your children and the consequences for not doing so. Be consistent in enforcing your rules.

  • Stay seated in the bathtub. Children slip and fall easily when the tub is wet.
  • Children are NOT to enter pools without adult supervision.
  • There is to be NO roughhousing in the pool.
  • Swimming in the ocean is not the same as swimming in a pool. Children should not stand with their backs to the water because they can get knocked over by a wave.
  • If lightning starts, get out of the water quickly and go inside.

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Updated on 4/5/2013