The Layers of Protection


Keep pool time fun by incorporating layers of protection! Supervision, barriers, and being prepared for emergencies help to prevent drownings and keep children safe.



Over 90% of Florida’s home swimming pools were built before the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act took effect.  Download the WaterSmartFL Facts handout and other materials on the resources page to learn more.



Supervision, the first and most crucial layer of protection! This means a responsible someone, usually an adult, is always actively watching when a child is in, on or around the water. Drowning is usually a silent catastrophe, one that can happen in the few second! By the time it takes you to answer a phone call or run inside for a towel a drowning can occur. For children ages 1–4, the majority of drownings occur in residential swimming pools. Children should never be allowed to swim or play near pool drains, and should be taught the dangers of pool drains and pipes. When you teach children, and the whole family, about water safety, everyone can help be accountable for supervision.


The "Water Watcher"

A Water Watcher is a responsible adult who is assigned the role of watching all the children who are in or near the water. The Water Watcher focuses on the children at all times without distractions. This means: NO cell phones. NO books. NO ear pods. NO Conversations! If multiple adults are present, take turns acting as the Water Watcher. Have the Water Watcher wear a lanyard so they don’t forget whose turn it is to watch the children. A Water Watcher tag is available for download on the Resources tab.



A child should never be able to enter the pool area unaccompanied. Barriers physically block a child from accessing the pool. Keep chairs and objects away from barriers so children do not climb them to gain access to the water.

The Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act (Chapter 515, Florida Statutes) requires one of the following pool safety measures for pools built after October 1, 2000:

  • A pool fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate — enclosing the pool and providing no direct access to it.
  • An approved pool cover which is fitted to your pool; a simple canvas covering can be a drowning hazard and can entrap a child in the water.
  • Alarms on all doors and windows leading out to the pool.
  • A self-closing, self-latching device on all doors that provide direct access from the home to the pool; the release mechanism must be no lower than 54 inches above the floor.

The Florida Department of Health recommends that all pools, at a minimum, use a combination of the barriers described above to help ensure safety around your pool. In order for barriers to work, they must be in good working order, on, and/or locked. Please see the State Laws tab to learn more about the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act.



Everyone should know the basics of swimming, including floating, treading and moving through the water. Formal swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent. It’s never too late to learn to swim, make it a family activity and learn together. Organizations that provide swim lessons can be found on the Partners/Events tab.

In an emergency, it is critical to have a phone nearby to immediately call 911. Know your location, what type of emergency and what help is being administered. It is also important to learn CPR and First Aid. Check with the American Heart Association, American Red Cross and/or the American Safety and Health Institute for more information on lifesaving classes.

When enjoying open bodies of water such as lakes, springs, rivers or oceans, you should have a safety plan and equipment before going. When boating, children and adults should wear life jackets, even if they know how to swim. Weaker swimmers should wear life jackets when swimming in all bodies of water. Lifejackets are NOT a replacement for supervision!