Water Play and Children... Is it Safe?

Swimming suit is on. Sunscreen applied. Towel is packed. Pool toys are in tow. Children are at the door and ready. But wait! Are water play rules posted and reviewed? Has a safety check been done? Are there enough adults to supervise the children both in and out of the pool? While these may seem like redundant tasks, children at home and in child care will have an enjoyable and stress-free play experience when the key components of water safety are addressed.

Swimming Dos and Don'ts!

Proper limits and boundaries are important for children to thrive in their environment. Accidents happen because of confusion of expectations. To avoid this, compile a list of rules that are kid-friendly and child approved. Encourage all children to brainstorm as a group and review them before entering the pool or water play area.

Sample Rules

  • Always enter the pool and water play area with an adult
  • Ask if it is ok to play in the water
  • Wear Sunscreen
  • Have a swimming buddy
  • Enter the water feet first using a ladder or steps
  • No running! Little feet can slip and trip
  • Be a good friend and help others
  • Keep pool and water toys stored and only bring out what will be played with
  • Have fun!

Learn, Look and Listen


  • to swim
  • how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • the basics of life-saving so that you can assist in an emergency


  • at all children as they interact in water activities
  • around the pool and water play area for hazards before letting children participate
  • to ensure play materials are appropriate for age and development


  • to a child's needs
  • for calls of help
  • for laughter and sounds of fun

Fences, Covers, and Latches... Oh My!

Barriers like fences, door alarms, gate latches and pool covers are not child proof, but they provide protection for a child when pools are not in use. These helpful guidelines will contribute to a secure water play area.


  • Install a fence around the perimeter of the pool that is at least four feet in height
  • Use self-closing and self-latching gates
  • Ensure all pools and spas have compliant drain covers
  • Install a door alarm from the house to the pool area
  • Maintain pool and spa covers in working order
  • Have life-saving equipment such as life rings or reaching poles available for use
  • Keep backyard toys that could be used as climbers stored away from the pool area

Sprinklers, Hoses and Buckets Work Too!

Water play can be enjoyable for all ages of children, even toddlers and preschoolers. Sprinklers, hoses, or small individual water buckets are safe alternatives to pools.

Possible activiities to use at home or child care:

  • Water Tables
  • Sprinklers
  • Kiddie-Car Wash
  • Water Tag
  • Water Spray Paint
  • Bubble Play

Note: Avoid small, portable wading pools as they do not permit enough control of sanitation and safety and can spread childhood illness

Make this summer free of pool accidents and use these tips to build a safe backyard fun-zone for kids! To find more information, visit these websites:


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