Water safety for kids

Drowning is a leading cause of injury-related death for Canadian children, and it often happens quickly and silently. Almost half of all child drownings occur in backyard swimming pools.

It’s important to enjoy swimming safely. Here are some backyard pool safety tips with our Dr. Karen Bailey, pediatric surgeon.

Make sure your backyard pool is a feature to enjoy, not a dangerous hazard for your family and friends.

  • All pools must be fully fenced with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
  • Young kids and weak swimmers should wear lifejackets or floatation devices in and around the water.
  • Ensure there is adult supervision around the pool, even if the children can swim.
  • Have some safety equipment accessible including a reaching pole or ring buoy.
  • Always have a first aid kit handy.
  • Have a phone nearby to call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency.
  • Consider a safety net or removable mesh fence for added protection when the pool is not in use.
  • Enroll kids in swimming classes when they become of age.
  • Don’t leave toys laying around the pool that could entice kids to the edge.
  • Don’t let kids dive in until parents have checked how deep the waters are.

What to do if you suspect a child is drowning

Children can drown in as little as one inch of water. If you suspect someone is drowning (if they have stopped breathing or have trouble breathing), call 9-1-1 immediately and follow these steps.

Take the child out of the water and place them on their back with their head tilted slightly back to open the airway. Check if the child is breathing by placing your ear near their mouth and nose. Remember, gasping for air is not considered breathing. If they are not breathing, start CPR as soon as possible. Every parent should be very familiar with how to perform CPR.