Pool Safety

The majority of drownings we see at Cook Children’s occur in swimming pools often during unplanned swim time. Whether it’s a public pool, your neighbor’s pool or your own pool, it’s important to put certain safety measures in place to keep your child from drowning.

One to four year olds are at the most risk to drown in a pool. At this age, toddlers learn by exploring and often have no fear of water. They are unsteady on solid ground and often end up accidentally falling into water without the proper survival skills.

As children get older, they are not drown proof either. Even strong swimmers are at risk for drowning. Put multiple safety measures in place, whether it’s during a time when you plan to be around water or a time when a toddler accidentally finds themselves around water without an adult in sight.

Pool safety home owner tips:

Drownings happen when you least expect it | Lifeguard Your Child

Prevent access when adults are not watching.

Many children treated at Cook Children’s drown during unplanned swim time, when an adult didn’t expect a child to be around the water. Families with backyard pools and access to open water should install barriers to prevent access when adults are not watching. The more barriers in place, the safer the child will be: 4-sided fence, doors with locks out of reach of children, safety alarms for both pools and children, doorknob covers on doors accessing water, etc.

Drownings happen in seconds | Lifeguard Your Child

Assign a water watcher.

Home safety plans should always include an adult water watcher around the water. If an emergency does happen, remember, seconds count. The adult should call 911 immediately and then begin CPR while EMS is in route.

Water Safety Fencing - Lifeguard Your Child

Install four-sided fences with self-latching gates.

  • Four-sided isolation fencing around home pools could prevent 50 percent to 90 percent of childhood drownings and near-drowning incidents.
  • The fence should be at least 4 feet (preferably 5 feet) high with a self-closing/self-latching gate that only opens out.
  • Reroute any doggie doors that have direct access to the pool area too.
  • Pool and spa covers should be sturdy enough to support the weight of a child or multiple children.
  • Pool gates should have child proof locks and should remain locked whenever you are not using the area.
Water Safety Pool Rules - Lifeguard Your Child

Create and follow all pool rules.

  • Read all informational signs presented at the pool.
  • Listen to lifeguards while attending public pools.
  • Assign a non-distracted adult Water Watcher to focus on children in the pool.
  • Check your local Red Cross and YMCA for classes.
Water Safety Pool Alarms - Lifeguard Your Child

Use pool/door/child alarms.

  • Door and window alarms can give you the valuable seconds need to keep your children from getting outside to the pool. Make sure to alarm any windows and doors that open directly into the pool area.
  • Pool surface alarms are also a great option to alert you if anyone/anything falls into the pool. You can even put an alarm on your child that will alert you if they are submersed.
Pool Safely Step 5: Safety Drain Covers

Update pool drains and cleaning systems.

  • Children should stay away from pool drains and other cleaning equipment as they have powerful suction that can pull them down to the bottom of the pool. Swim suit straps, hair and other items can easily get caught. There are certain safety drain covers that can prevent this from happening.

Other pool safety tips

Water Safety Water Watcher Tags - Lifeguard Your Child

Insist on adult, non-distracted Water Watchers.

  • Children drown silently, so designate a Water Watcher to watch children in and around all water. A Water Watcher should be in-reach at all times of the children in the pool. The safest way is to be in the pool with them.
  • A Water Watcher tag can be used to designate responsible adults to watch the water when you have a party at the pool, lake or beach. At social gatherings, 10-15 minute shifts are recommended for Water Watchers. During that time, Water Watchers should not be distracted by conversations, cell phones, reading, etc.
  • If a child goes missing, always check the pool first for missing kids … Seconds count!
  • Send an email to safe.kids@cookchildrens.org to request your Water Watcher tag.
  • Download a Water Watcher sign-up sheet
Water Safety Flotation Devices - Lifeguard Your Child

Wear life vests with U.S. Coast Guard-approved labels.

  • If your child’s lifejacket doesn’t say “US Coast Guard Approved” or “USCG approved,” you can assume it’s not safe. Always check the label.
  • Any items filled with air (arm floaties, rafts, etc.) are considered toys and not a life saving device.
  • And as your child grows, the lifejacket needs to meet their new weight. Get a new lifejacket if there are rips and tears or fraying of the straps.
Water Safety CPR - Lifeguard Your Child

Take family CPR lessons.

  • Learning CPR can be the difference between life and death while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.
  • Check your local Red Cross and YMCA for classes.
Water Safety Pool Rules - Lifeguard Your Child

Create and follow all pool rules.

  • Read all informational signs presented at the pool.
  • Listen to lifeguards while attending public pools.
  • Assign a non-distracted adult Water Watcher to focus on children in the pool.
  • Check your local Red Cross and YMCA for classes.
Water Safety Swim Lessons - Lifeguard Your Child

Schedule water safety and swim lessons.

  • Drownings and near drownings are eight times more likely to happen to children that don’t know how to swim or are being supervised by adults that don’t know how to swim.
  • Learning how to swim and practicing proper water safety techniques are crucial but children that know how to swim are still at risk.
  • Need help finding swim lessons? Check out this list of providers in the Tarrant County area. If you’re not in Tarrant County, you may want to contact your local YMCA, Red Cross, or parks and recreation center for information in your area.

Help us promote pool safety

We’ve put together the below social media kit for easy sharing among your friends and family. It takes a village and together, we can help prevent another child from drowning.

Please feel free to use our messaging or create your own. To use our messaging, all you have to do is copy the messages we’ve provided below and insert the appropriate photo into whichever social media site you prefer to use. We do ask that you keep #LifeguardYourChild in the message.

Drowning is silent and can happen in less than two minutes. #lifeguardyourchild

Cleaning up after pool time can be chaotic. Take your child’s life vest off once you’ve reached the car. #lifeguardyourchild

No phone, grilling, reading, sleeping or being distracted by friends. Eyes should only be on the water. #lifeguardyourchild

Children are curious and can often slip out of sight without a parent or guardian knowing. The more barriers you have in place, such as door and pool latches, the safer your child. #lifeguardyourchild

Commonly used floaties are not a lifesaving device. Use a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest instead. #lifeguardyourchild

When watching children in the water, the only reason you need your phone is if you have to call 911. #lifeguardyourchild

Help us make a change and lifeguard your child! Let’s work together to make Texas No. 1 in the nation for drowning prevention. #lifeguardyourchild

The power of the suction on older pool drains can be very dangerous, causing a child to get pinned to the bottom of the pool. #lifeguardyourchild

Toys in the pool can be tempting to fearless toddlers. When you’re done swimming, make sure the pool area is clear of these potential hazards. #lifeguardyourchild

Take your first step

Here is a list of swim lesson providers we have the privilege of working with. We’ve also included a Water Watcher sign-up sheet to make sure there is always one adult that is not going to be distracted by conversations, cell phones, reading, etc… while children are swimming.

Swim lesson providers     Water Watcher sign-up sheet

The Safe Kids North Texas coalition is made up of community partners in over 8 counties surrounding and including Tarrant County, Texas. Our partners are our greatest safety advocates in each of these areas. If you are a swim lesson provider and would like to join our coalition, please reach out to us at Safe.Kids@cookchildrens.org.

Get involved and help us save lives

Want to know how you can get involved or create an awareness campaign in your community? Contact Dana Walraven, Safe Kids Tarrant County coordinator.

682-885-1619     safe.kids@cookchildrens.org

Interested in sharing prevention resources in your community?

Safe Kids North Texas is proud to offer water watcher tags and pool signs upon request. Please submit this form to request yours today:

Resource request form