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23 Water Safety Tips To Keep Babies & Kids Safe

A sunny pool day is a lot more enjoyable when everyone is safe.

First and foremost, never leave kids unattended near any body of water, no matter their swim skill level. This is especially true for children 4 and under, as drowning is the leading cause of death for this age range. manonallard, Getty Images
If you have a backyard pool, it should be surrounded by fencing or safety gates as well as other layers of protection within the home such as alarms on doors, door locks, and doorknob covers. Catherine Ledner, Getty Images
Kids should always wear US Coast Guard-approved life jackets when in or near an open body of water, including while boating, playing water sports, and/or swimming.Thomas Barwick, Getty Images
The AAP recommends kids start swim lessons at the age of 1 (4 at the latest) to learn basic water competency skills such as entering and exiting the water, floating to the surface, treading water, turning around in water, and swimming at least 25 yards. Imgorthand, Getty Images
Parents and caregivers should learn general first aid and CPR in case of injury or drowning as well as what to do in the event of an emergency. Stevica Mrdja / EyeEm, Getty Images
Know the signs of drowning and distress: gasping for air, weak swim stroke, not making progress swimming in the water, bobbing up and down or motionless, hand waving or arms out to the sides, swimming opposite current, or unable to tread water. Carol Yepes, Getty Images
Follow the “reach or throw, don’t go” rule for strong swimmers in distress: pulling them out with your hand (reach) or tossing a float for them to grab and pull them to shore (throw) without putting yourself in danger. Peter Cade, Getty Images
Teach kids the different hazards in pools, lakes, rivers, and oceans such as uneven floor, currents, undertows, and sudden drop-offs. Cavan Images, Getty Images
Keep babies under 6 months old out of direct sunlight, and if it cannot be avoided, small amounts of sunscreen can be applied on the face and backs of hands.Cavan Images, Getty Images
Empty kiddie and blow-up pools after every use for both accidental drowning prevention and to stop the spread of germs from contaminated water. Layland Masuda, Getty Images
Avoid sunburns by limiting your kids’ exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are the strongest.Ulf Huett Nilsson, Getty Images
If possible, kids should wear hats with brims large enough to provide shade to their face, ears, and neck to protect their sensitive skin from the sun. Carol Yepes, Getty Images
Have adults serve as designated “water watchers”, especially when there are a lot of kids swimming and/or there is no lifeguard on duty. Water watchers should be sober and put their phones away to avoid distraction. Cassandra Hannagan, Getty Images
Kids should wear sunglasses to protect their eyes and the sensitive skin surrounding them from UVA and UVB rays. While polarized lenses help to reduce glare, most sunglasses sold in the U.S., including non-polarized work just as well in blocking these rays. Imgorthand, Getty Images
Whether it is sunny or cloudy, use broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 and up to 50 to keep your child’s skin protected from harmful UV rays. aydinmutlu, Getty Images
For the best protection, choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and without oxybenzone in the ingredients whenever possible. DaniloAndjus, Getty Images
Parents should apply a generous amount of sunscreen to their child’s skin 15-30 minutes before going outside. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or any time after swimming, sweating heavily, or toweling off. Dmitry Travnikov / EyeEm, Getty Images
Sunburns can take 6-12 hours to appear, so you should not rely on visual cues your child is burning. If they do end up with a mild sunburn, treat them at home with cool compresses or a cool bath and acetaminophen. Bohemian Nomad Picturemakers, Getty Images
Parents of young children or kids who are not strong swimmers should practice touch supervision, being in the water with your child within arm’s reach at all times. Kevin Reid, Getty Images
Take older kids on frequent bathroom breaks and check swim diapers regularly to reduce the risk of water contamination in pools. If a child is sick with diarrhea or vomiting, they should not get into pools or on water slides. d3sign, Getty Images
When the heat index is at or above 90 degrees, kids are most at risk of heat-related illness. Make sure kids stay adequately hydrated with water — with the exception of infants who can be given extra breastmilk or formula. ArtMarie, Getty Images
Always opt for designated swimming or recreational areas when swimming in open water. Ideally, choose a location that has lifeguards present. Imgorthand, Getty Images
Wave pools at water parks are very dangerous. If kids are playing in one, parents should be within arms reach of weak swimmers and have their eyes on strong swimmers at all times.SimplyCreativePhotography, Getty Images