17 Water Safety Tips That Could Save a Child’s Life

water safety
Adam Pepper, image taken by Michael Chester

It’s shocking to realise how many children die as a result of drowning every year, and water-related tragedies can occur quickly and silently. In the lead up to National Water Safety Awareness Week (20th – 26th June), Water Babies, Ireland’s leading baby and toddler swim school and Glohealth Insurance, want to increase awareness of the importance of learning to swim at an early age and advise parents about water safety for little ones. Here are 17 Water Safety Tips That Could Save a Child’s Life:

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General Water Safety

Always actively supervise young children around water.

#1. Keep an eye at all times on your child

Parents must keep an eye on their children at ALL times – they can be easily distracted chatting to other parents, reading a newspaper or talking on the phone.

#2. Stay within an arm’s reach

Supervising adults should be in arms reach of children under five so that if a child slips underwater, they can be pulled to safety immediately

#3. Supervising adults should be able to swim

The adult watching MUST be able to swim and not afraid to jump in the water.

#4. Never leave another child in charge

If leaving, even momentarily, take your child with you or designate a known adult to supervise – never leave an older sibling in charge around water.

Pool Water Safety


#5. Check if there’s a lifeguard at the pool

Make sure there is a qualified lifeguard in attendance before you or your children enter a public swimming pool.

#6. Check where the rescue equipment and lifeguards are.

Make sure you know where lifeguards are sitting/standing and where rescue equipment is located.

#7. Don’t swim in cloudy water

Do not swim in a swimming pool which has cloudy pool water or where you can’t see the pool bottom

#8. Remember flotation devices are not life preservers

Toys and inflatables are often unstable and therefore a hazard.

Beach Water Safety

kids at beach

#9. Use safe beaches

Find beaches that are recognised locally as safe to swim, and preferably lifeguarded.

#10. Swim within your depth

Don’t go out too far and be careful of currents.

#11. Check current beach conditions before you swim

Find out where the lifeguards are and learn water symbols and flags indicating current beach conditions.

#12. Always follow lifeguards advice

Always pay attention to what lifeguards are telling you.

Boating/Fishing Water Safety

Things to do with kids on a rainy day fishing

#13. Always wear a lifejacket

Make sure everybody wears a lifejacket when boating or fishing that is age and size specific and has a correctly fitting crotch strap.

#14. Don’t have too many in the boat at once

Never overload your boat with too many people.

Recommended Reading: 27 Fun Ideas for Water Play

General tips

#15. Keep numbers handy

Save the local emergency numbers on your mobile phone.

#16. Stay sober

Drinking can impair your supervision and swimming skills – especially when combined with the mid-day heat.

#17. Learn BLS (Basic Life Support)

Survival depends on a quick rescue and basic life support (resuscitation) if a child has stopped breathing. Seconds count using Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to prevent death or brain damage.

Finally teach your children these key water safety rules:

  • Always swim with others, never alone
  • Do not push or jump onto others or participate in any dangerous behaviour in a swimming pool, such as horseplay, wrestling, running, jumping and dive bombing – it might result in injury.
  • Do not dive into water unless someone has already tested the depth and checked for any underwater hazards. Diving into insufficient water depths can cause face, head and spinal injuries and even death.
  • Know what to do in an emergency and where to get help. Call 112.

National Water Safety Awareness Week is an annual campaign run by Irish Water Safety (IWS), the statutory body established to promote water safety in Ireland. The campaign aims to reduce the number of drowning and near drowning incidents that occur in the Ireland every year.

Chloe Sargent Oliveira with Bubba & IWS Polar Bear, image taken by Michael Chester
Chloe Sargent Oliveira with Bubba & IWS Polar Bear, image taken by Michael Chester

Water Babies works closely with Irish Water Safety to educate parents and change behaviour to prevent drowning and water related accidents and has created a helpful guide for parents, which is available from www.waterbabies.ie. By following these guidelines parents and carers can minimize the chances of a tragic incident befalling their child this summer and all through the year.

Over to you now. Do you have any further water safety tips to add or a story to tell about a child and water safety? Share with us in the comments below.