Water Watcher

Your Guide to Active Supervision During Swim Times

How to Be a Water Watcher

Drowning is silent and can occur in moments, making vigilant supervision essential during any swim activity. As a Water Watcher, your role is crucial in ensuring the safety of swimmers, especially young children. This guide is designed to empower you with the knowledge and tools needed for active supervision, helping you to prevent accidents and effectively maintain a safer swim environment. Whether by a pool, at the beach, or near any body of water, becoming a Water Watcher means being the first line of defense against potential water-related dangers.


Water Watcher Requirements

Ensuring water safety for children and swimmers of all ages requires vigilant, effective supervision. The National Drowning Prevention Alliance strongly recommends adopting a supervision strategy that is close, constant, and capable.


The Water Watcher should be physically near the swimmer at all times. This requires being in the water and within arm’s reach for infants, toddlers, young children, or individuals who don’t know how to swim. It is especially important when in or near a backyard pool where barriers or lifeguards may not be present.


The Water Watcher must be distraction-free. Smartphones, books, and conversations should be avoided. It’s essential to keep your eyes on the swimmers continuously, without breaks. If supervision needs to be transferred to another adult, it should be done explicitly—confirm that the new supervisor is aware and prepared to watch over the swimmers without interruption.


The Water Watcher must be knowledgeable about water safety, proficient swimmers themselves, and know CPR. A capable supervisor knows how to assess the water conditions, recognize signs of drowning, and respond effectively in emergencies. They are prepared not only to supervise but to take immediate action if necessary.

Water Watcher Rules:

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Wear the Water Watcher Hat

This lets everyone know that you are the responsible adult actively watching. The timer helps remind you to maintain focus or to pass the hat to another adult after a set period, ensuring continuous vigilance.

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Stay Alert

Keep your eyes on the water at all times. Avoid distractions such as reading, using your phone, or extended conversations.

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Be Prepared

All water watchers should be capable swimmers and know basic swim safety, including how to perform CPR. Keep emergency equipment like a phone and life-saving gear nearby.

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Maintain Visual Contact

Ensure you have an unobstructed view of all swimmers at all times. If you lose sight of someone, check the water first.

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Stay Close

Be close enough to react quickly in an emergency. For infants and toddlers, remain within arm’s reach.

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Rotate Duties

To avoid fatigue and maintain high alertness, rotate Water Watcher duties among adults every 15-30 minutes.

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Educate Others

Ensure everyone understands the pool rules, such as no running, pushing, or shallow water diving. Educate children on safe water practices.

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Know the Environment

Familiarize yourself with the specific hazards of different water environments, whether it’s a pool, lake, or ocean.

Non-Swim Time Reminders

Here are three important reminders for parents to ensure safety during non-swim times:


Secure the Pool Area

Always ensure that all pool barriers, such as Life Saver Pool Fences, are secured and intact when the pool is not in use. We recommend keeping your pool fence up at all times and doing regular maintenance checks to ensure optimum safety.


Remove Pool Toys

Clear out all pool toys and floatation devices from the water after swimming is done. These can attract children to re-enter the pool area unsupervised and increase the risk of accidental drowning.


Establish Clear Rules

Set and reinforce clear rules about pool safety, including that children must not go near the pool without adult supervision, regardless of whether they intend to swim. Regular reminders about these rules can help ensure they are followed.

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