Backyard pool safety

Backyard pools are where children from one to four years of age are most likely to drown. Drowning is a leading cause of injury-related death for Canadian children, and it often happens quickly and silently.

Mother staying close by her son in the poolHere's how to reduce the risk of your child drowning in a backyard pool:

Install a 1.2-metre (four-foot) high, four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around your home pool. Installing a 1.2-m high, four-sided fence with a self-closing gate helps prevent children from reaching the pool. Not having a fence allows children dangerous access to the pool. Proper fencing could prevent seven out of 10 drowning incidents in private swimming pools for children under five years of age. For more information, read our Safer pool fencing pamphlet.

Stay within sight and reach of your child when in, on or around the pool. Drowning usually happens when a child just slips under the water. A child can drown in as little as 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water in only a few seconds. Forty-two per cent of all children who drowned in the past 10 years did not have an adult watching them. Adults should stand within arm's reach of any child under five year of age or any older child who does not swim well when they are in water or playing near the water.

Learn how to swim or have your child supervised by an experienced adult. Know first aid and CPR. Make sure there is an experienced swimmer with your child whether they are in, on or around the pool. If your child happens to slip into the water, an experienced swimmer will need to quickly get the child out of the water and perform CPR, if necessary.

Put young children and weak swimmers in lifejackets when in, on or around the pool. Lifejackets provide extra protection for your child but you still must supervise closely.

Put your child in swimming lessons. It is best to ensure that children have training, but remember lessons don’t provide them with special protection. Supervision is still needed, even if your child is in swimming lessons.

Have the right safety equipment. Check your local government to see what kind of equipment you should have for your pool. You should always have the following:

  • A first-aid kit
  • A phone for emergencies
  • A reaching pole
  • A ring buoy attached to a rope