Water Safety for Kids: Best Water Safety Tips for Parents

Best Water Safety Tips for Parents

Image of legs in the pool

One of the best parts of summer for kids is getting to go swimming, which is why water safety for kids is so important! As long as they’re in a swimsuit, they’re happy. It doesn’t seem to matter if its a lake, pool, splash pad, ocean, or even a water table in the backyard; if they’re splashing, you can bet they’re having a blast.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for parents. We have to lug all the gear to the pool, deal with the sand in places sand shouldn’t go, and apply sunscreen to squirming children. None of that is my idea of fun, but here we are, doing it for the 100th time because our kids love the water.

If you’re going swimming this summer, you’ll need reviews on different infant life jackets!

Add in the worry about water emergencies, and a fun day at the pool can quickly become a mom’s worst nightmare. Anytime there’s water involved we immediately turn our spidey-senses to high alert. Water is fun, but it’s also dangerous. You need some practical water safety tips for kids.

I hear you. You’re chanting ‘YES! I’M SO WORRIED ABOUT DRY DROWNING! IT’S SO SCARY!’

Hear me: Dry drowning isn’t real. Secondary drowning isn’t real either. They’re not real medical terms.

Dry Drowning Isn’t Real

In 2017 a young boy in Texas lost his life a week after a wave crashed down on him while he was playing in the sand. The media blamed dry drowning, and it instantly became every parent’s biggest fear. I want you to know, dry drowning isn’t real. The little boy from Texas passed away from a heart complication that was unrelated to the incident at the beach.

Every death is tragic, especially when it is a child’s. My heart goes out to the family that lost their precious baby; I can’t even fathom that kind of loss. Drowning deaths are a common cause of pediatric death, so fear and worry about water safety are entirely warranted. I want to share some correct, meaningful, and medically credible information to help ease those fears. I also want to give you some practical water safety tips for kids.

When folks are talking about ‘dry drowning,’ they’re talking about a situation where water never reaches the lungs. Breathing in water causes your child’s vocal cords to spasm and close up. That shuts the airway, making it hard to breathe. You would start to notice those signs right away. It wouldn’t happen out of the blue days later.

‘Secondary drowning’ is often used to describe a different drowning complication. It happens if water gets into the lungs. Water irritates the lining of the lungs and causes fluid to build up. This is pulmonary edema, and can sometimes even lead to an infection. You’d notice your child having trouble breathing right away, and it might get worse over the next 24 hours.

Swimming and boating are great ways to spend the summer and water safety is vital for summer fun. Here are some great water safety tips for kids.


Dry Drowning isn’t real, so what is?

Drowning is trouble breathing after you get water into your airway. Sometimes that happens while swimming or bathing, but it can come from something as simple as getting water in your mouth when you weren’t expecting it. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and drowning can be fatal, but the good news is that the line for when to go get help is obvious.

Symptoms of Drowning

  • Coughing
  • Chest Pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling extremely tired
  • Changes in behavior (this a sign that the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen)

What to Do

I don’t want you to run to the emergency room every time your child starts coughing after they get splashed. Coughing is a good thing- it’s your child’s body getting rid of the water that entered the mouth.

Your job is to keep a close eye on your child for the 24 hours after they had any problems in the water. Problems can mean swallowed a bunch of water, got dunked in the pool, had a hard time catching their breath after getting splashed, etc. Any issues that do develop are usually treatable if you get medical care right away.

However, you do need to seek medical care if your child has an excessive cough, isn’t breathing normally, or isn’t acting right immediately after being pulled from the water. If your child is 100 percent normal upon exiting the water and significant symptoms develop more than eight hours later, go to the emergency room immediately.

back of two girls in swimsuits holding hands. Girls are facing a lake.

Here’s the good news, drowning is entirely preventable.

The most important thing we can do as parents when it comes to water fun is prevent drowning. And to do that, we need to practice proper water safety.

Water Safety Tips for Kids

Drowning Prevention

  • Always watch closely when your child is in or around water.
  • Only allow swimming in areas that have lifeguards.
  • Have your kids wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket if they aren’t strong swimmers or if you’re around a large body of water.
  • Never let your child swim alone.
  • Never leave your an infant alone near any amount of water — even in your home.
  • Follow the touch rule with younger children in the water.
  • If I can’t reach my arm out and touch you, you’re too far away.
  • Enroll in swimming lessons or a mommy and me class for younger children; each session always includes information about water safety.

Don’t let your guard down, even if the water isn’t deep. Drowning can happen in any water — bathtubs, toilet bowls, ponds, or small plastic pools. Water safety is paramount in drowning prevention.

Swimming and splashing in the water is such a fun way to spend the summer! But, there’s nothing fun about the worry that comes with water emergencies. Drowning is a terrifying and common occurrence with kids, but it’s preventable by practicing proper water safety!

Another summer safety concern is heat illness; check out my article on Heat Illness in Children!

Sideline AT Blog


  1. Emergency Medicine News: August 2017 – Volume 39 – Issue 8 – p 1,39–40
  2. Emergency Medicine News: June 2018 – Volume 40 – Issue 6 – p 1,22–22
  3. WebMD: What Is Dry Drowning






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