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Published on August 30, 2017

girls jumping into pool

Be a Water Watcher to Ensure Summer Water Safety

Nearly 800 drowning fatalities occur in the United States each year, and more than half of them are children under the age of 5. According to, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages younger than 5.

Whether children are swimming at the pool, at the lake, in a hotel pool, or in the backyard, supervision is crucial. The Water Watcher program was developed to protect children by assigning specific adults to be in charge of water supervision.

Here is how the Water Watcher program can make a difference and save lives. Depending on the number of children in the water, one or more adults are assigned to be “Water Watchers.”

The program works because it asks a specific adult, who is serving as Water Watcher, to agree to take the role for a specific amount of time – usually 15-30 minutes.

The adult Water Watcher agrees to:

  • Devote complete attention to supervising the children in the water
  • Not to eat, drink, visit or use a device while on duty
  • Not leave the area without finding a replacement, and
  • Know how many kids are in the pool at all times

You can order or print your own Water Watcher tags online.

Supervision Is Important

There are many misconceptions about drowning. Half of parents surveyed believed that they would hear their child if he or she was drowning. Remember these life-saving tips:

  • Drowning is silent: There is typically very little splashing, waving, or screaming when a child drowns. Parents believed that checking on kids periodically was enough.
  • Drowning is quick: There is less than a minute to react when someone needs help in the water. Parents believed that the lifeguard was supervising their child
  • Lifeguards do not supervise: Lifeguards’ responsibilities are to enforce rules, scan, rescue and resuscitate. Parents often have a false sense of security because their child has had swim lessons.
  • Swimming lessons are not enough: Forty-seven percent of drowning victims ages 10-17 knew how to swim.

With increased awareness and the use of programs like Water Watchers, pool drowning fatalities involving children under age 5 have decreased by 17% since 2010. That’s great news. But we must continue to supervise kids in the water and keep them safe.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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