Swimming safety for kids

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Drowning is the number one cause of unintentional injury deaths among children one to four years of age, and the second leading cause of preventable death for children under 10 years of age in Canada.

This happens because no one is watching kids as they swim. Backyard pools are the most common places for children under five years old to drown.

Here are some safety tips:

Set swimming rules

Give your children safety rules. Tell them to:

  • Keep at least two metres away from other kids/people who are not part of your household.
  • Wear a life jacket especially if they don’t know how to swim.
  • Never swim alone. Always pair up with a buddy.
  • Always check the depth of the water before going in or diving.
  • Don’t go in the deep area of the pool (or lake) especially if they are not good swimmers yet.
  • Not play in above knee water if they are younger than five years old.
  • Not swim in water higher than their chest if they are older kids who are intermediate swimmers.

Watch and supervise

An adult should always watch the children. Stay within an arm’s length of your child if your child is under five or is a weak swimmer. Always wear life jackets before getting in the water.

Teach kids Swim to Survive

Swim to Survive is a three-step technique for kids. It teaches them what do in case they fall into water. Watch and learn from the video below (This video is also available in French, Cantonese, Hindi, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi and Tamil here: Swim to Survive YouTube):

Swim to Survive, Ontario Branch of the Lifesaving Society

Go to swimming lessons

You and your children should learn to swim. There are many programs available in Manitoba for you and your children (check this page for courses or check the latest Leisure Guide). To better protect your family and others, learn basic First Aid and CPR. These skills could save lives.

Practice pool safety

If you have a pool at home, put up a 1.2 m (4 ft) fence on all four sides. Include a gate that locks, closes and latches itself. This will prevent your baby, toddler or pets from falling in. Diving boards or slides should have a non-slip surface. Turn over wading pools so that they cannot fill up with rainwater.

Lifesaving equipment and a telephone should always be close by for emergencies.
Article updated June 25, 2024.
Adapted from: New in Canada Parenting Support Child Safety Series, Learn about swimming safety, CMAS Canada/CIC/Lifesaving Society

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Community Resources

The Canadian Red Cross website has information on summer water safety and CPR courses.

Visit Lifesaving Society Manitoba to know more about the Water Smart program.

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