Help Prevent Drowning With a Water Safety Audit

U.S. Swim School Association offers tips on keeping your child safe

Nationwide Children’s Hospital
The pool and bathtub are places where you want to always watch your preschooler, but the USSSA suggests that parents conduct a water safety audit to find all hazards in your home. Nationwide Children’s Hospital

We've heard it before—during a party, a backyard barbecue, or even just a normal Tuesday afternoon—an unsupervised child slips into a pool. According to the​ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates, especially in homes with pools. But while a child dying from a pool drowning-related incident is tragic, it is very important that parents and caregivers are aware that a pool isn't the only place a child can get hurt or worse. 

According to the United States Swim School Association (USSSA), there are many potential drowning risks right in your home—even if you do not have a pool. To help parents better protect children and keep them safe in the place where they should be the most secure, the USSSA suggests that parents should conduct a home water safety audit. This type of audit can help parents and caregivers figure out if there are any high-risk areas for drowning, and what steps they can do to keep their child safe. 

How to Conduct a Home Water Safety Audit

The USSSA has put together the following steps to conduct a home water safety audit:

  • When performing a water safety audit in your home, first create a list of each room inside your home and include garages, sheds, front yard and backyard, and other structures on your property as rooms so you can check them off your list as you survey each area.
  • Look for common risk factors found in the average home in each room including buckets, diaper pails, toilets, ice chests/coolers, hot tubs, spas and whirlpools, ditches and post holes, wells, ponds, and fountains.
  • Identify unique risks in each area of your home and list them under that room. For example:
    • Kitchen — dishes are left soaking in a sink filled with soap and water overnight.
    • Laundry room — the utility sink has a bucket sitting in it with a few inches of water leftover from cleaning the floors.
    • Backyard — old 5-gallon buckets were left sitting upright behind the shed and could collect rainwater.
    • Bathroom — the bathtub doesn’t drain properly and sometimes water can be left sitting in it for over an hour after it is used.
    • Front yard — a decorative fountain could be a risk when the kids play outside.

    How to Make Your Home Water Safe

    After walking around your home and taking stock of the different water risks, the USSSA suggests you do the following:

    • Fill your bathtub with the amount of water normally used during bathing and use a stopwatch to time how long it takes to drain. Never leave the bathroom unsupervised after a bath until that amount of time has passed.
    • Create a plan for correcting or mitigating risks in your home including toilet lid locks, pool fences, and other barriers.
    • To remind yourself to change habits like soaking dishes in the kitchen sink overnight, post a note next to the sink.
    • Correct any issues in the home like slow draining sinks or bathtubs, improperly stored buckets or containers, children’s play pools, etc. Hire a plumber to fix drains if you do not have the expertise and always store buckets or containers upside down so water cannot collect in them.
    • For risks installed in your home landscaping including fountains, fishponds, ditches, etc. consider putting up barriers to block children from falling into them and carefully supervise children playing outside.
    • Learn CPR. Both the USSSA and the CDC suggest that parents and caregivers learn CPR. According to the CDC, "CPR performed by bystanders has been shown to save lives and improve outcomes for drowning victims. The more quickly CPR is started, the better the chance of improved outcomes."
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