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Adult Supervision Required Signs: Frequently Asked Questions


While swimming, critical circumstances can quickly build and get beyond your control, leading to a fatal consequence. Caitlin Hoff, health and safety investigator for ConsumerSafety.org, recommends swimmers always swim with a buddy, ideally in an area with an on-duty lifeguard. Following are the hazards of swimming alone in pools -

  • - Near-drownings and drownings
  • - Diving injuries
  • - Slips and falls on pool decks
  • - Suction entrapment in pool drains
  • - Electrical shocks


As such, there is no national standard or policy regarding the minimum age of a child for swimming without any adult supervision. Most state laws require adult supervision for children only when there is No Lifeguard on Duty. The minimum age limit varies between the jurisdictions governing different counties, cities, or states. Some cities like Dayton, Ohio, allow children as young as 8 to be left unattended, whereas others like Broward County in Florida don’t allow children to be dropped off alone until they are at least 12 years old. New York state even goes up to 16.

For residential pools, you can consult the child's swim instructor to ensure the child is a proficient swimmer. The American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety Skills Chart is also a popular benchmark. To swim unsupervised, a child must perform all the tasks on Level 6.


Although there is no specific law on this, common pool safety policies require “adults” who know how to swim and can take turns being the "designated watcher," who is not distracted to supervise children in pools. The adult can be a parent or caregiver of the child. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) mentions that parents of children under five years old (or those who are older but lack swim skills) need to be within arm’s length of their kids.

However, some other laws require pool owners to supervise swimmers, including children. Washington considers the private pool club owners responsible for the supervision and ensuring that adequate supervision is maintained. Their health department strongly recommends having lifeguards, shallow water lifeguards, and attendants oversee a pool because of their advanced training and skills.


Pool owners can safeguard small children in the pool area in the following ways:

  • - Installing a fence (at least 4 feet high) around all four sides of the pool to prevent small children from entering
  • - Installing a gate with a latch beyond a child's reach
  • - Covering the pool when not in use
  • - Using motion alarms to alert the owner that children are present
  • - Making sure safety equipment like a shepherd’s hook and a ring buoy are in good condition and ready for use
  • - Keeping a first aid kit and a portable telephone handy near the pool
  • - Posting clear signs with warning of all dangers, prohibitions on diving, running, rough playing, or swimming without supervision
  • - Designating “water watchers” at parties and making sure parents and caregivers are certified in CPR
  • - Avoiding inflatable swimming aids such as "floaties"


That depends on the state or local law. But most laws for public pools do require adult supervision for children if the lifeguard is not on duty. HOA pools without a lifeguard are required to post signs at least 3 feet by 4 feet at every entrance to a swimming area, stating: “No lifeguard on duty;” “Persons under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult;” and “No swimming alone.”


Following are the different types of water safety supervision in pool areas:

Full Contact Supervision: Involves infants and kids who have no swimming skills. The supervisor needs to maintain full contact with the person in the water.

Arms Reach Supervision: Involves kids with some swimming skills. Swim instructors often use this supervision at initial levels when teaching how to swim.

Direct Deck Supervision: Involves kids of all ages with high swimming skills (those who passed a swim test). This supervision is done at deck level, at the pool's edge.

Group (Lifeguard / Party) Level Supervision: A lifeguard or adult performs this type of supervision at a party, keeping an eye on multiple people or children in the water.

Partner / Buddy Supervision: This type of supervision is done by a friend or buddy in the water. For example - lap swimming, surfing, scuba, swimming, hot tub use.

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