written by Emily Jewkes, health educator, Bear River Health Department

Swimming can be a great way for kids to learn new skills, socialize, and have fun. But it is important to put safety first when children are in and around water. Among preventable injuries, drowning is a leading cause of death for children 1 to 4 years old. Children ages 1 to 4 are more likely to drown in a pool, while kids 5 years and older are more likely to drown in natural water, such as ponds, lakes, and rivers.

Whether you are in the backyard, at the beach, or at the community swimming pool, you can help make the water a safe place for kids to swim and play by following these simple tips:

  1. Watch kids without distraction when they are in or around water. Keep young children within arm’s reach of an attentive and responsible adult. Make sure older children swim with a partner every time.
  2. Teach children how to swim. Every child is different, so enroll children in swim lessons when they are ready. Consider their age, development, and how often they are around water.

    Make sure kids learn how to swim and develop these five water survival skills:
    1. Step or jump into water over their heads and return to the surface.
    2. Float or tread water for one minute.
    3. Turn around in a full circle and find an exit.
    4. Swim 25 yards to exit the water.
    5. Exit the water; if in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.

  3. Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow, and changing weather.
  4. Know what to do in an emergency. Learning CPR and basic water rescue skills may help you save a child’s life.

For more information and resources about protecting kids on the road, at home, and at play, visit SafeKids.org.