Did you know drowning is one of the top five causes of death for kids beneath the age of 14? What’s even worse, children between the ages of one and four have the highest drowning rates, and nearly 80% of all drowning victims in the US are male. Teaching children how to swim is one of the best ways to prevent an accidental tragedy, but we wanted to show some other equally important steps to stay safe around the water during Water Safety Month.

Step One: Upgrade Your Protection

Whether it’s a child or an adult, inexperienced swimmers need the right protection to prevent drowning. Unlike the arm floaties we’re all guilty of using, individuals uncomfortable in the water should be wearing life jackets or life preservers to prevent drowning. Air-filled swimming aids like floaties or “water wings” are toys not designed as personal-flotation devices, often giving parents a false sense of security.

Step Two: Watch The Water

If children are swimming or simply playing near a pool, at least one adult should be designated as the “water watcher.” Their responsibilities should include staying within an arm’s reach of the pool and eliminating distractions like reading, talking or using a cell phone. If a child is missing, always check the water first.

Step Three: Practice Safety Skills

Even if your family doesn’t have a pool, the opportunity to go for a swim will inevitably present itself and you want to make sure you and your children are prepared. While you don’t need to exhibit Olympic-level swim skills, everyone in your family should at least achieve these basic water skills:

  • Be able to enter the water
  • Take a breath
  • Stay afloat
  • Change positions
  • Swim a distance
  • Get out of the water safely

Even once these skills are mastered, it’s still necessary to practice other safe habits like swimming with a buddy and never jumping headfirst into a pool unless there is a designed space that’s safe for diving.

Step Four: Prep Your Space

As a pool owner, you possess a certain level of responsibility when it comes to ensuring the safety of those who may be swimming in your backyard. A few ways to keep your pool space safe for you and guests include:

  • Installing a fence surrounding your pool that stands at least four feet tall
  • Using self-closing and self-latching gates to prevent any small children from wandering too close
  • Using a lockable safety cover for your hot tub/spa
  • Installing pool and gate alarms to send alerts when children get too close to the water
  • Making sure you are using anti-entrapment drain covers to prevent drowning

Of course we all love the idea of taking a dip in the pool (especially as the weather gets hot!), but it’s vital to remain vigilant when it comes to practicing pool safety techniques. You’ll never regret enrolling your child in formal swimming lessons knowing it can reduce the risk of drowning among children under four years old. And if you’re an adult who thought it was too late to learn, there are so many resources to pick up basic swimming techniques like the World’s Largest Swim Lesson or these tips from The Red Cross. Even though Water Safety Month only happens once a year, you should practice these steps all the time to make sure you and your loved ones continue to enjoy the pool in a fun and safe way.

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