Pool Safety

Drowning is a leading cause of injury death for children ages 1-4, and the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages.

For every child less under the age of 15 who dies from drowning in a pool, another 10 receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Nonfatal drowning can cause brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities including memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functions. The good news is that drowning can be prevented.

Reduce the Risk of Drowning


If you have a pool (in ground or portable/inflatable), secure it with appropriate fencing on all four sides. Many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than five minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time. Appropriate pool fencing significantly reduces the risk of drowning. The fence should be at least 4 feet high, and have self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward, with latches that are out of the reach of children.

Swimming Lessons

Make sure everyone in your family learns to swim well. Contact the local YMCA to sign up for age-appropriate swimming lessons.

Life Jackets

Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone, children should always be closely attended when near any type of water. Do not use air-filled or foam toys, such as "water wings," "noodles," or inner-tubes, in place of life jackets for flotation support. These are toys and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.


Preventing unintended pool access
  • Children should never be in or around a pool alone. Four-sided isolation fencing, door locks, gate locks, and alarms that are triggered when someone enters the water should all be used in conjunction to keep young children from entering a pool unattended. Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.
  • Never leave a small child alone or in the care of another child while in the pool or other water source, even if the child has had formal swimming lessons. Adults who are supervising children in the pool should not be distracted by activities such as reading, texting, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn. Drowning can happen very quickly and quietly.
  • Supervision is important even when there are lifeguards at the pool. While lifeguards enhance safety, their ability to safeguard swimmers has limitations.


Starting CPR immediately, rather than waiting for emergency personnel, can help reduce the chance of brain damage. Make sure that at least one member of your family is trained in CPR.

Download the Safe Swimming App from CDC