Summer is in full swing and that means kids and families are hitting the pool. Whether you’re visiting a community pool, are swimming over at the neighbors or enjoying a dip in your own backyard, make sure you and your family are staying safe.

“Drownings and near drownings are a serious and preventable risk among toddlers, children and teens,” says Mridula Naik, Clinical Nurse Manager for Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center’s Pediatric Emergency Services and Pediatric Inpatient Unit. “It can happen in the blink of an eye and create lasting injuries and trauma for children – and parents.”

Follow these six water safety rules can create layers or protection for your family and reduce the risk of drownings.

Establish clear rules for the pool.

Before arriving at the pool, make sure your children know exactly what they can and can’t do when swimming. Rules should include:

  • Swim only when an adult is present
  • No running
  • No diving
  • Inexperienced swimmers should stay away from the deep end unless an adult is within arm’s reach
  • No wrestling or dunking

Create rules that are age and skill appropriate for your family – and stick to them all summer long.

Teach children water safety.

Children should take swim lessons that teach basic water safety, including how to:

  • Get in and out of the pool
  • Tread water
  • Float on your back

These simple skills can help children stay safe if they do find themselves in a situation where they can’t reach the edge of a pool or need to quickly get out of the water.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children take swim lessons.

Don’t rely on floatation devices.

Floaties can give parents and kids a false sense of confidence around the water. It’s all too easy for a child to jump into the water without realizing they’re not yet wearing their floaties. Parents still need to stay within arm’s reach of children even when wearing a floatation device.

Follow the arm’s reach or eye’s reach rule.

Children who are not yet proficient swimmers – who cannot swim the length of the pool independently – should have an adult within arm’s reach at all times. Drowning can happen in the blink of an eye. A close adult can help keep kids safe.

Children who are strong swimmers need a water watcher at all times. A water watcher keeps swimmers within “eye’s reach” at all times – meaning they can see swimmers the entire time they are swimming in every part of the pool. Water watchers should not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol when supervising children in the pool.

Learn CPR.

Adults who will be supervising children in the pool should know how to do CPR. Community centers, hospitals and The Red Cross regularly offer classes to teach adults how to perform CPR and other first aid skills.

Have a plan.

No one wants to think a drowning can happen to them or their family. But, it’s important to be prepared and know what to do in case an emergency does happen.

  • Know what drowning looks like. Someone who is drowning isn’t able to make noise or splash around. Learn what the signs of drowning are and how to spot them.
  • Get help. Notify a lifeguard or have someone call 911.
  • Take the person out of the water.
  • Check for breathing and pulse.
  • Start CPR if no pulse.

Pool and water safety is something everyone should take seriously – even the most experienced and proficient swimmers.