Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 6: Play Areas/Playgrounds and Transportation

6.3 Water Play Areas (Pools, Etc.)

6.3.1 Access to and Safety Around Bodies of Water Pool Safety Rules

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 02/27/2020.

Clear safety rules for the use of swimming and built-in wading pools should be posted in a visible location. Caregivers/teachers should understand and follow all pool safety rules at all times. Compliance should be assessed by interviewing caregivers/teachers to determine if they know the rules and by observing if the rules are followed.

Caregivers/teachers should use active supervision strategies to create a safe environment and prevent pool-related injuries or death to children enrolled.1

If the facility has a water play area, the following requirements should be met:

  1. Water play areas should conform to all state and local health regulations.
  2. Water play areas should not include hidden or enclosed spaces.
  3. Spray areas and water-collecting areas should have a nonslip surface, such as asphalt.
  4. Water play areas, particularly those that have standing water, should not have sudden changes in depth of water.
  5. Drains, streams, waterspouts, and hydrants should not create strong suction effects or water-jet forces.
  6. All toys and other equipment used in and around the water play area should be made of sturdy plastic or metal (no glass should be permitted).
  7. Water play areas in which standing water is maintained for more than 24 hours should be treated according to Standard Pool Water Quality and inspected for glass, trash, animal excrement, and other foreign material.

The facility should develop and review an emergency plan, as specified in Standard Written Plan and Training for Handling Urgent Medical Care or Threatening Incidents.

Early care and education programs should refer to state and local regulations for guidance and/or additional requirements for pool safety.


Signage, visibly posted, that clearly communicates pool safety rules provides general guidelines for staying safe in and around water.2



Granofsky B, Leonardo J. How child drowning can be prevented. Children’s Safety Network website. Published August 10, 2018. Accessed August 21, 2019

US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Accessed August 20, 2019

US Consumer Product Safety Commission. In-home drowning information center. Accessed August 21, 2019

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Ratios and Supervision for Swimming, Wading, and Water Play Supervision Near Bodies of Water Behavior Around a Pool Enclosure of Bodies of Water Pool Water Quality Portable Wading Pools Written Plan and Training for Handling Urgent Medical or Threatening Incidents
  1. US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center. Safety practices. Active supervision. Updated January 29, 2019. Accessed August 21, 2019

  2. American Red Cross. Swimming and Water Safety. Accessed August 21, 2019


Content in the STANDARD was modified on 02/27/2020.