Drowning often occurs quickly and silently, so it is vital that adults providing supervision not be distracted or engaged in other activities, even if lifeguards are present. Inadequate supervision is considered one of the major risk factors for unintentional drowning.
For preschool-aged children, “touch supervision” is recommended, where the supervising adult is within arm’s reach of the child. Children can drown in even just 2 inches of water, so they should be constantly supervised even in shallow water.
When there are multiple children and adults at a pool, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends designating a “water watcher” who will supervise the children in the pool. This person should meet the following criteria:
- 16 years old or older (adults preferred)
- alert and not under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- has the skills, knowledge, and ability to recognize and rescue someone in distress OR can immediately alert a capable adult nearby
- knows CPR or can alert someone nearby who knows CPR
- has a working phone to dial 9-1-1
- has a floating and/or reaching object that can be used in a rescue
Download a printable “water watcher” card here.