Parents and guardians are the primary supervisors of small children in and around the water. They are also responsible for giving their children opportunities to learn swimming and water safety around swimming pools and other aquatic environments. In California, Florida, Texas, and several other states, adoptive/foster parents must be certified in first aid and CPR and receive an orientation course in water safety before they can qualify.

Parent SupervisionGeneral Information

Parent supervision 2Layers of Protection

When parents and guardians consider ways of making water safety a part of family activities at home or on the road, they should avoid focusing on a single strategy or guideline. Rather, they must maintain layers of protection that overlap to ensure continuous and complete safety for all family members. Layers of protection include the following (not intended to be an exhaustive list):

  • Provide constant adult supervision at home, at swimming lessons, and anywhere there is water
  • Ensure complete barriers around backyard pools and spas, including child-proof self-latching gates
  • Use alarms and/or safety covers to further restrict access to the water
  • Provide swim lessons for children 4 years old and up; make sure to include water safety concepts as well
  • Have your family swim in designated swimming areas with lifeguard service only
  • Avoid hazards such as strong currents, waves, rocks, murky water of unknown depth or bottom conditions, etc.
  • Use life jackets when and where appropriate (i.e., while fishing, boating, enjoying water sports, etc.)
  • Be a good example; do not mix alcohol use with swimming, boating, or other activities around the water
  • Protect your family from the sun and be aware of other health hazards in and about the water

These strategies become more relevant and less relevant as a child grows up. See my blog on Ranking Layers of Protection and Layers of Protection with Lifeguarding. The following links give more information about how overlaying strategies and safety systems can ensure complete protection for your family: