photo of African American father and son in swimming pool

Drowning is a leading cause of death among young children. To help prevent water-related injury and drowning:

  • Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and children swimming or playing in or around water at all times.
    • Whenever infants and toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within an arm's length at all times providing "touch supervision."
    • Adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity while supervising children.
    • Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.

When Swimming at a Public Pool or Beach

  • Swim only in designated swimming areas.
  • Always swim with a buddy.
  • Select swimming sites that have lifeguards, whenever possible.
  • When a child is missing, check the water first.
  • Do not use air-filled or foam toys, such as "water wings," "noodles," or inner-tubes, in place of life jackets (personal flotation devices). These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

If you Have a Swimming Pool at Home

Many young children under 5 who drown are not in their swimsuits and not supposed to be in the water. Children have a natural curiosity and attraction to water. Preventing access to swimming pools for small children is essential.

  • Install a four-sided pool fence that completely separates the house and play area of the yard from the pool area. The fence should be at least four feet high. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of reach of children.
  • After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can't get back into it.
  • Consider additional barriers such as automatic door locks or alarms to prevent access or notify you if someone enters the pool area.
  • Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd's hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.
  • Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool after use so that children are not tempted to reach for them.

What Else Can you Do?

  • Learn to swim. Formal swimming lessons can help prevent drowning. But, remember, constant, careful supervision and barriers such as pool fencing are necessary even when children have completed swimming classes.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The Red Cross offers a wide selection of CPR/AED, first aid, lifeguarding, swimming, and water safety training. For information on classes, visit www.redcross.org/take-a-class.

This information is provided by the Department of Public Health .

Recommended Content

People also viewed...

You recently viewed...

Personalization is OFF. Your personal browsing history at Mass.gov is not visible because your personalization is turned off. To view your history, turn your personalization on.

Learn more on our .

*Recommendations are based on site visitor traffic patterns and are not endorsements of that content.