Prevent child drownings: Public Health recommends Water Watchers

June 5, 2024 /

With temperatures rising, many Kern County families may be trying to beat the heat by swimming in the backyard or taking trips to the beach and other recreational bodies of water. Because of this, the Kern County Public Health Department is urging adults to designate Water Watchers to supervise children during water activities.

“When in and around water, children must always be kept in sight of a responsible adult. Drownings can happen quickly and silently, so there is no room for error,” a press release sent out by Public Health stated.

The press release also stated that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages one to four. In 2022, the Kern County Child Death Review Team (CDRT) reported six drownings in children under the age of eighteen. From 2018 to 2022, twenty-one children died from drowning in Kern County.

“Of these, three were in the Kern River, three in bathtubs and 15 in pools. It was determined that 100% of the pool- and tub-related drownings had a lapse in supervision,” the press release said. “These consisted of a lapse of adult supervision while the child was in a pool or tub or in the home that had easy access to the pool.”

The designated Water Watcher will wear a lanyard that can rotate between adults to ensure someone is always focused on the children. The Water Watcher should not be conversing with others, texting, watching videos, or reading a book.

After a certain amount of time, the Water Watcher card is passed to another adult who will then be responsible for the active supervision.

Those interested in being a Water Watcher can pick up a free lanyard at Public Health located at 1800 Mt. Vernon Avenue in Bakersfield.

Additionally, Public Health also provided tips on how to prevent drownings in and around the home:


  • Never leave children unattended, especially near water.
  • Children who cannot swim should remain within your reach. 
  • Keep a phone near you – to call 911 if there is an emergency.


  • Put a fence around all sides of a pool or spa with a self-closing and latching gate. 
  • Have alarms on doors and pool gates. 


  • Adults and children should learn how to swim. 
  • Teach your child to always swim with a buddy. 
  • Use life jackets and avoid using air-filled toys as floatation devices.


Victoria Rodgers

Victoria Rodgers is an editor and reporter for Kern Sol News. Born in Bakersfield, CA, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Rockford University in Illinois. She can be reached at