Blue Healthwest Logo

News & Health

Child swimming underwater looking at the camera

Water Safety

Candice Hutchins
By Candice Hutchins

Summer is approaching, which means more activities in and around water. In the U.S., someone dies from drowning every ten minutes and one out of every five drowning victims is a child. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death in kids ages one to four.

Teaching our kids how to be safe around water can help prevent drownings. Kids can drown in bathtubs, toilets, buckets, hot tubs, canals, pools, lakes, and rivers, really any water an inch or more deep.

One of the most important things to do when kids are around water is to always have someone watching them. If you have young children, close toilet lids and bathroom doors. If you have a pool, install a fence that is at least four feet tall with self-closing and self-latching gates. It is also a good idea to learn basic first aid and CPR, so you know what to do in an emergency.

There are five water survival skills kids should know if they are going to be around water.

  • First: Step or jump into water over their head and return to the surface.
  • Second: Turn around in the water and orient to safety.
  • Third: Float or tread water.
  • Fourth: Combine breathing with forward movement in the water.
  • Fifth: Exit the water.

It is important to get kids into swimming lessons, especially if you have a pool at home. It is also important to teach kids that swimming in lakes or rivers is different than swimming in a pool. There are currents in lakes and rivers and the bottom is not smooth like pools. It is also hard to see the bottom of lakes and streams so you can’t tell the depth or see if there are sharp rocks or other hazards. It is always a good idea to have kids wear a life jacket when swimming in lakes or rivers or going on a boat.

Some other good rules to teach your kids about water safety are:

  • Put sunscreen on before going outside
  • Never swim alone
  • Always swim where a lifeguard can see you
  • Never pretend to be drowning
  • Wear protective footwear
  • Don’t swim close to piers
  • Face the waves so you can know what is coming
  • Drink plenty of water when swimming
  • Don’t swim in the dark
  • Stop swimming as soon as you can see or hear a storm
  • Get slowly into the water to make sure the water is not too hot or too cold

As your kids become teens, it is important to educate them about not drinking alcohol or using drugs while swimming. It is also important to learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger. Usually, it’s not recommended to jump in after someone who is drowning. Rather, try to reach out to them while holding onto something stable. If you can’t reach them, throw them something that floats and get help.
Practicing these water safety tips will help you have a fun and safe summer around water.

–  Candice Hutchins is a registered nurse at Health West Pediatrics in Pocatello, ID. The clinic is accepting new patients. Appointments can be scheduled at or by calling (208) 232-3355.


Skip to content