How to be a Good Water Watcher

How to be a good Water Watcher

I write a lot of technical posts but this one is in celebration of May being International Water Safety Month.  We are going to talk about how to be a good water watcher.  First, we need to learn what a water watcher is.

A water watcher is someone whose job is just to watch the water while the children are in it.  This water could be a bath tub, a kiddy pool, a large pool, a lake, an ocean, or any other body of water that has children in it.  Water watchers are:

  • Attentive, functional adults who are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
  • In close proximity to the children,
  • Providing constant supervision,
  • Not distracted by phones or socializing,
  • Accounting for every child every 10 seconds, and
  • Able to take a break when relieved of duty by another water watcher.

 I encourage water watchers to rotate positions every 15 minutes so they don’t get bored or inattentive.  Being a water watcher can be boring and your mind will want to water but keep your attention on the children in the water and make sure you get a head count every 10 seconds.




To effectively watch the water, you need to have all your attention focused on the activity in the water at all times.  Do not get distracted by phone calls, text messages, social media, etc.  That can wait until you take a break.  If you need to take a phone call while the children are in the water, have everyone get out and take a break.  They can go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, put on more sunscreen, read Water Safety with Swimmy, etc. until you are done.

Make sure you watch all of the water – not just the top.  Scan the top, scan the sides, scan the bottom, and everywhere in between.  If you have a hesitation or a curiosity in the water, check it out.  In this case, the old adage of “better safe than sorry” definitely applies.

 If a child is ever missing near any body of water, check the water first.  Even if you are visiting a house that has a pool, a brook, a river, etc. in the back yard, check the water first then check the rest of the house and yard.  The sooner you can get to someone who has accidentally fallen in the water, the better.


Watch the children for dangerous too’s:  too tired, too cold, too much sun, too far from safety, too much strenuous activity, etc. and take breaks often.  Children will not tell you when they are getting the dangerous too’s because they want to keep having fun so you need to have them take a break.  Also, watch for children who need to go to the bathroom.  Never let children go to the bathroom in the water.  That’s gross!  Would you want to swim in that?  I know I don’t.

Finally, if you are the only one watching the water and one of your children needs to get out and needs your help, everyone in the water needs to get out until you can resume your water watcher duties.  Remember, a water watcher is an attentive and functional adult, not your oldest child who wants to keep playing in the water and not watch their siblings.  If something were to happen while you were away, your child, unless they are a trained lifeguard, would not know what to do to help a sibling so don’t give them that responsibility.

Have fun and stay safer in and around the water.  If you would like more ideas on staying safer around the water, check out my upcoming blog posts about:  When you should be in the Water, When not to Swim, and Water Safety Rules.  You can also check out my Water Safety Resources at