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Summer swimming safety tips from Safety Education at Indiana University School of Medicine.

Water Safety Tips: How do I protect my whole family?

Children swimming in a pool

Summer is in full swing! Swimming, boating, and other water sports are a great way to beat the heat! Everyone in the family should practice always practice water safety and be prepared with properly fitted life jackets to keep them safe!

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 14. Accidental drownings can happen anywhere, so it is important to take steps both outside and inside the home to keep your family safe in and around water. Proper safety equipment, adult supervision, and good water safety practices are key to help prevent drownings. Here are some quick water safety tips to remember:

Outside the home

  • Always provide proper adult supervision in and around water.
  • Teach children basic water safety tips.
  • Learn how to swim and teach your children how to swim.
  • If you use blow-up or portable swimming pools, remember to empty them and flip them upside down to store them away from a child’s reach.
  • Children can drown in as little of an inch of water. Empty all buckets and containers with water and turn them upside down to store.
  • Children and adults who cannot swim must wear Coast Guard approved life jackets. The personal flotation device (or PFD for short) should fit properly and be appropriate for the type of water you are swimming in.
  • Do not rely on life jackets as a substitute for adult supervision.
  • A family pool should be enclosed by a four-foot fence, with a self-closing and latching/locking gate.
  • Consider putting alarms on pool entry points to set off an alarm when opened to alert you that someone is entering the pool.
  • Add a pool alarm, fence, and cover for added security.
  • Keep rescue equipment such as a life preserver, shepherd’s hook (long pole with a hook), and cell phone near the pool in case of an emergency.

Inside the home

  • Never leave your child alone around water. Keep in mind, children can drown in as little as an inch of water.
  • Avoid distractions like texting or talking on the phone as they can take your full attention away from your child.
  • Drain the tub as soon as bath time is over to help prevent accidental drowning.
  • Always keep bathroom and laundry room doors closed.
  • Keep toilet lids closed. Use toilet seat locks to help prevent drowning
  • Small children may get stuck and drown in a bucket or other containers with water, so always empty them after use. Store them upside down and out of reach of children.
  • Learn CPR. Check with the American Red Cross to help you find local classes to learn CPR.

 Purchase Coast Guard approved life jackets at low prices from The Safety Store. Staff will help you choose the right life jacket for you and your child’s needs, so be ready to answer questions about weight, possible chest size, and where you will be using the life jacket. The Safety Store also carries a variety of toilet locks to help protect your little ones from injury in the bathroom. Call The Safety Store Helpline at 317-274-6565 or visit for more information on water safety products and education for the entire family!

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Ashley Dummer

Ashley Dummer is a Communications Specialist in the Department of Pediatrics. She has worked in Pediatrics since graduating with her degree from Indiana University.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.