Whether your kids are swimming in the ocean or splashing around in a small inflatable pool, parents must be vigilant about water safety. Accidental drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children under 5 years of age.*

Here are six important things to consider for water safety this summer:

1. Children swimming in or playing around any body of water should always be closely supervised, even if they know how to swim. Drowning often happens quickly and silently which can be opposite what people think (there is no loud splashing or yelling for help). Assign a “water watcher”, someone who is not on their phone, drinking alcohol or reading, to always supervise swimmers. Use touch supervision for kids who are not strong swimmers – this means staying within arm’s length when in the water.

2. Air-filled and foam toys are not safety devices. The CDC warns that floaties and other pool toys are not alternatives to constant adult supervision. The same goes for “water wings” or inflatable arm bands.

3. Build fences around backyard pools. In California, there are legal requirements for new and renovated pools that include safety features like pool fences at least five feet tall (gaps between fence slats must be four inches or less along with gaps of two inches or less under the fence). Also, pool fence gates must be self-closing and self-latching. Learn more about pool requirements here.

4. Empty small inflatable pools and buckets after each use. A child can drown in as little as two inches of water.

5. Enroll children in swimming lessons. When children learn to swim the likelihood of a drowning death decreases, but even the best swimmers should be supervised in the water.

6. Learn CPR. The ability to perform CPR can save a life. Find a local CPR course offered by the American Red Cross.

* https://www.cdc.gov/drowning/facts/