Child Safety: Drowning Prevention in Pools and Hot Tubs
Most childhood drownings occur in swimming pools. When visiting public or private pools, make sure that your children are supervised
closely and that they are familiar with pool safety rules.
If you have a pool
at your home, use these tips to help prevent drowning tragedies:1
All pool owners should be certified in
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
child is missing, look immediately in the pool. Every second counts in drowning
Never let your child swim without an adult
Always have your child wear a life jacket when swimming or
Inflatable toys or mattresses should not be used when
young children are swimming in water above the waist.
from the pool when they are not in use. Young children attracted to the toys
can fall in when reaching for them.
Any doors leading from the
house to the pool should be fitted with an alarm that sounds anytime the door
is opened unexpectedly.
Install a power safety cover for when the pool isn't in use. This is a motor-powered device that acts as a barrier over the
Keep rescue equipment by the pool. This includes a portable
phone with emergency numbers, a life preserver, and a shepherd's hook.
Above-ground pools that aren't in use should be inaccessible.
Secure steps and ladders to prevent an unsupervised child from climbing into
Install underwater pool alarms that can be heard inside
the house and in nearby areas. Alarms that can be used with pool covers are
Install fences and walls around the entire pool.
Fences should be at least
4 ft (1.2 m) high, with
self-closing and self-latching gates. Latches should be out of a young child's
Hot tubs and spas
Hot tubs and spas often are an overlooked drowning danger for
children. Drowning can result from unintentional falls into the water, from
hair that becomes tangled in drains or jets, or from body parts becoming
Consider keeping hot tubs and spas off-limits to young children. Talk
to your doctor before allowing children younger than age 5 to use
If you allow children in a hot tub or spa, prevent a drowning
incident by taking proper precautions and talking to your children about
potential hazards. The following recommendations can help protect your children
from an accident or drowning related to hot tubs and spas:2
Closely supervise children around a hot tub or
spa. And have a phone nearby to call for help in an emergency.
Don't allow underwater play in a hot tub. Hot tub and spa
jets and drains can suck hair in, trapping a child underwater. Explain to
children that hot tubs and spas aren't swimming pools or places for active
Know where the pump
cutoff switch is located so that it can be turned off in an
Keep a locked safety cover on the hot tub or spa when it's not in use. If a drain cover is missing or broken, shut down the spa until
the drain cover is repaired or replaced.
Don't allow the water
temperature to exceed
104°F (40°C) in hot tubs and
spas. Drowning has occurred from extremely hot water, which can cause
drowsiness and loss of consciousness. Heatstroke is another danger.
Install a door alarm, a window alarm, or both to alert you if an unattended child wanders into the hot tub area.
If you have a pool or hot tub where you live, find out if the drains and other parts meet current safety standards. Check with the place where you bought the pool or hot tub, or ask a pool operator.
Other Places To Get Help
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333
The CDC Healthy Swimming website provides tips and fact sheets to help people reduce the chances of getting an illness from swimming in recreational waters such as lakes, rivers, swimming pools, and oceans. CDC's Healthy Swimming program also provides resources to raise awareness about recreational water illnesses (RWIs) and how to prevent them by practicing "Healthy Swimming" behaviors.
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
This U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website has information about pool and spa safety, drowning prevention, and more. The website includes interactive activities for kids.
Safe Kids USA (accessed August 2012). Pool and hot tub tips. Available online:
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.