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Is Your Nanny Water Safety Certified?

June 29, 2010

by, Lisa Werth  http://modernizingmarypoppins.com/
Lisa is a nanny with many years of experience

For more articles on nanny safety issues

In July of 2008 and now in June of 2010 two nannies have died in drowning accidents while caring for young charges. That is two nannies too many.

Many years ago, I myself as a nanny on duty at the time had to dive into a deep pool to pull a struggling child out of the water.

When I heard of both tragedies the immediate thought that came to mind was could they swim? Why did they never learn what to do in case of a water emergency?

After the first nanny died a few summers ago, I started to become vocal about the need for families with pools who were hiring caregivers to be responsible and hire only those that can swim. In May of 2009 I was out on a hike with another nanny one weekend near the Potomac River, and she asked if it was possible to swim in it? I looked at her as if she was crazy. Rivers have currents and the Potomac has big rocks.

This got me thinking though about what people do and don’t know about water in general and what precautions do they need to take.

With my charges, I like to get out in nature, whether it’s a trail over a creek or river, near a duck pond at a playground, or on the shoreline of a lake. I’ve done all types of things with them over the years. In hindsight, in most of those jobs my former employers never asked me if I could swim or test me for water safety knowledge.

Yes, I do know what to do; I nearly drowned when I was four. A childhood neighbor friend of mine did drown the summer we were twelve in a diving accident. A few years after that my cousin’s toddler drowned in a bath tub. I am perhaps hyper vigilant when it comes to children and water. I read all the articles and pamphlets that I come across about precautions and procedures to take.

According to the American Red Cross each year, more than 830 children ages 14 and under die as a result of unintentional drowning. On average, an annual 3,600 injuries occur to children due to a near-drowning incident.

I have been on many interviews with families that have pools, or go sailing and boating. Some live or vacation on waterfront properties. Many of my charges have been in swim lessons and then want to go to the pool or the beach, and the parents expected me to take them. Likewise, there are many nannies in our country working in situations where water is a part of the job. One thing I do know, is while life guards are good, it doesn’t mean a nanny should let down her guard.

I am American Red Cross Water Safety Certified. I received this training through a nanny retreat. At the International Nanny Association Conference in the spring of 2010 several others became certified in water safety too. It would be great to see a majority of nannies become trained in this. If there is a

nanny agency, association or organization in your area encourage them to offer a training time on water safety including the ARC certification.

Parents, if you are going to hire and nanny and you have a pool or even think there is the remote possibility of them being near or in any type of water, please insist that your nanny be trained in water safety. And, know water safety yourself; take the course together if you both need it. It is inexpensive and just a few short hours of your time.

After you complete the water safety training have drills with your nanny and children. Create Rules and plans for what to do in an emergency. Post them somewhere near your pool because in a panic situation having those steps there can be a extremely vital to help remind people on what to do.

Periodically look over the guidelines put out by the American Red Cross and other health and safety organizations. Know CPR and First Aid, sometimes the accidently drowning can occur after a slip and head injury. Have pool side medical emergency kits and devices to aid you if needed. Always have a cell phone nearby too. Put the address to your location on the safety rule board you have posted so if visitor needs to call 911 they can direct the dispatcher to where you are.

Please obey city ordinances regarding gates, covers, etc. around pools. Make sure household doors that lead off towards pools and bodies of water are securely locked so that curious little children don’t head out toward the water undetected.

Make sure your friends and neighbors know your expectations too. One time as a nanny, I came home while my employers and charges were away to discover some friends of theirs using the pool. Another time the neighborhood boys came over to apologize for being in it without telling their parents or us.

Here are some additional links for you to have as reference to go over with your family and nanny,




PLEASE, help prevent another child and nanny drowning tragedy.


6 Responses to Is Your Nanny Water Safety Certified?

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Jenny Patricks says:

Our kids love to swim, so we always make sure our nannies are comfortable in and around water and know what to do in the event of an emergency. I can’t even imagine if something happened to our kids or our nanny simply because we didn’t take the time to adequately prescreen!

Piper M. says:

All of these links are so helpful, thank you so much for providing them! We have a pool in our backyard, and even though we don’t like our kids to swim while we aren’t home it’s still so important to be confident that our childcare provider could react appropriately if something happened.

Lisa Werth says:

I have found a nice support article to add to this blog with a few additional tips, please read it.


admin says:

Lisa, thanks for posting this link. It looks like it has helpful information on it.

Regina says:

That’s tragic about the nannies who drowned, and incentive to go and get water safety certified!

admin says:

Having any additional certifications will definitely bolster up your resume, too!