Keeping your Child Safer in Open Water

Did you know that children over the age of six usually drown in open water? That means that 71% of the Earth’s surface poses a drowning risk to your child. Rivers, lakes, oceans, retention ponds, streams, drainage ditches, blocked street drains, canals, and of course, flooding from violent storms and hurricanes. I could go on, but you get the idea.

So how do you keep your child safe around open water? And not just now, but for their whole life because adults also usually drown in open water.

Learn the International Open Water Safety Guidelines by heart, and teach your children.

International Open Water Safety Guidelines

Care of Self

  • Learn swimming and water survival skills.
  • Always swim with others.
  • Obey all safety signs and warning flags.
  • Never go in the water after drinking alcohol.
  • Know how and when to use a life jacket.
  • Swim in areas with a lifeguard.
  • Know the weather and water conditions before getting in the water.
  • Always enter shallow and unknown water feet first.

Care of Others

  • Help and encourage others, especially children, to learn swimming and water safety survival skills.
  • Swim in areas with lifeguards.
  • Set water safety rules.
  • Always provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water.
  • Know how and when to use a life jacket, especially with children and weak swimmers.
  • Learn first aid and CPR.
  • Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger.
  • Obey all safety signs and warning flags.

What are the Guidelines? The Open Water Safety Guidelines were developed by an international task force that identified the lack of consistent clear messages around open water safety and decided something needed to change. The Guidelines are being adopted by an increasing number of organizations around the world, including: The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Risk Management Department of the U.S. National Parks, Royal Life Saving Society Australia, AUSTSWIM, Commonwealth Lifesaving – Royal Life Saving Society, USA Swimming Foundation, National Drowning Prevention Alliance, International Federation of Swim Teacher’s Association, Kenya Life Saving

About the Author

Global water safety for children is my passion and I can't wait to get up every day to work at it! I blog about water safety regularly at, or you can follow me on Twitter at RebeccaSaveKids. Rebecca is a former member of the PedSafe Expert team


3 Responses to “Keeping your Child Safer in Open Water”

  1. Great tips! We’re actually about to buy a pool in a few months to help with this brutal SC heat, thanks for sharing!

  2. Julie, thanks for reading! Enjoy your pool, my kids still miss our pool (as do I!) when we moved to chillier climes. Oh yes, a non-safety mom tip….keep a bottle of eco-friendly shampoo by the pool/garden and a hose. When they are done for the day a quick scrub and spray and you’ve just taken care of bath time for the whole summer! (I miss that too!)

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