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Injury Prevention - Backyard Pool Safety

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Injury Prevention Home >> Parents & Caregivers >> Be Safe at Every Age >> School-Aged Children >> Backyard Pool Safety

Backyard Pool Safety

Children are naturally attracted to water.  However, swimming pools, hot tubs, and natural sources such as lakes and rivers can be dangerous even if children are learning how to swim.  Children are at greater risk of drowning because they are not able to judge their skills, do not have the physical strength to get themselves out of trouble and do not understand changing lake or river conditions.  Parents must practice and role model water safety when children are near or in water.

We know:

  • Drowning is fast and silent. Children will not cry out or splash when in trouble.
  • 61% of the children 5 – 12 years of age who drowned did not have an adult watching them
  • Boys are more likely to drown than girls because they take more dares and risks.
  • The number of drownings in natural water settings such as lakes, rivers and oceans increases with the child’s age.


Parents and caregivers can take action:

Be aware

Identify open sources of water close to your home such as irrigation ditches, ponds and wells.  Set rules to keep your children away, drain the water or build barriers if possible.   

Know the conditions of the weather and the water.  Read all posted signs before you allow children into the water.  Identify hazards such as docks, logs, rocks in natural water settings.


Be ready

Establish pool rules:  No running on the deck.  No glass near the water.  No swimming without an adult.  

Install a four-sided pool fence around private swimming pools.  Four-sided pool fencing prevents seven out of ten drownings. 

Keep the following equipment by your backyard pool:

  • Portable phone with emergency phone numbers
  • Reaching pole 
  • Ring buoy attached to rope
  • First aid kit

Insist weak swimmers wear approved safety vests (lifejackets or PFDs) when they are in or near water and keep them within arms’ reach.  Inflatable toys like water wings and blow-up rings are not safety devices.   All family members should wear a lifejacket when riding in a boat.

Enroll your children in swimming classes but do not rely on lessons to keep them safe.  Always supervise as they learn new skills. 

Teach your children how to stay safe when diving.  Know how deep the pool or lake is before jumping in.


Be the example

Role model safe behaviours around pools, hot tubs and natural water settings. 


Be responsible

Get trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), first aid, water rescue and swimming skills. Find a course at Red Cross or St. John Ambulance 


Be there

Keep your eyes and attention on any child in or near the water.  Do not be distracted by phone calls, reading, cooking or barbequing, talking to other adults, other children, or active pets.  

Older children cannot safely supervise younger children while they are around water. Children should only be supervised by adults or certified lifeguards.


Information and Tips:  

Lifejackets & PFD Checklist 

Safe Kids Canada

City of Hamilton Recreation 

YMCA or YWCA   

Think ahead.  Children grow up fast.  Be ready for the next stage.

Last Updated:  May 2, 2013