Pool and Open Water Safety for Older Children, Tweens and Teens
With each new year, children become more and more independent. Knowing when to give them freedom, what rules they should follow around the water and how to keep safe at home and away from home is a big challenge.
Older children are still at risk of drowning in a swimming pool, lake or river. Even if your child is a more skilled swimmer, important safety rules apply, no matter what age.
Practical tips for an older child
Phoenix Children’s is a leader in water safety education for children. Three programs we offer include:
- We bring the entire community together at the Valley of the Sun’s “official kickoff to swimming season,” or Water Safety Day.
- Learning water safety in the classroom is easy and fun with our award-winning first grade curriculum, “Water Safety is for YOU.”
- Phoenix Children’s has partnered with United Phoenix Firefighters Association, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, and select Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix to bring the S3 Swim Program to the community.
Learn why teen boys are the second-highest risk group for drownings in open water (press release)
Tips for your child around other bodies of water
Open waters, such as rivers and lakes, are usually the location of incidents involving teens. The use of alcohol can greatly increase the risk of a drowning. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics identified adolescent males as the second highest risk group for drowning in their updated policy statement on child drownings. Phoenix Children’s own Dr. Jeffrey Weiss is the lead author of this previous statement which discussed the risks and suggestions to keep teens safe.
It’s important to prepare for trips to the open water. Just as no one should swim alone in a back yard pool, the same rule applies in the open water. Check safety equipment before you or your teen leaves the shore, review the location and schedule for the day and ensure that everyone understands boating rules. Teach your teen to follow water safety rules, such as the use of life vests, and the dangers of boating or using personal water-craft while under the influence.
Rivers or lakes
Learn about our work to improve open water safety for Arizona teens.
When your tween or teen is old enough to ride their bike around your neighborhood without you, or jog alone, you will need to talk about the canals. Canals are never a safe place for adults or children to swim. Your tween or teen should never ride or walk too close to the edge of the canal and should never jump in to rescue people or animals. Fast-running water and slippery sides can make getting out of the canal very difficult. Instead, call 9-1-1 for help.
Also, dry washes in Arizona can fill very quickly and become fast-running rivers. Talk to your tween or teen about staying out of these areas if there is rain in the area.
Open water safety resources:
- Download Phoenix Children's Water Sports Safety brochure (English)
- Download Phoenix Children's Water Sports Safety brochure (Spanish)
- Attend a boating safety class with Arizona Game and Fish
Teens and tweens using hot tubs
If your child wants to use a hot tub, also known as a spa or Jacuzzi, set clear rules for use. No one should use a hot tub alone, and the water should be set to a safe temperature. Limit time in the hot tub to avoid becoming overheated. Kids with long hair should braid or tie it back and keep it away from drains.
Teens and tweens as babysitters
Whether your child is watching younger siblings for you at home or babysitting for someone else, they need to learn about water safety. If your child wants to babysit, sign up for a babysitter education class and lay out clear rules.
Be a good example for your children by keeping your CPR skills current. Be prepared for emergencies and encourage your child to do the same. Take a CPR class regularly with a credible organization like the Red Cross and review their materials twice a year. If you don't know how to swim, sign up for lessons so that you can perform a rescue in the water if necessary.
For a fast and easy way for your older child to learn water safety, check out our free “Playing it Safe” program for parents and caregivers.