Temperatures are climbing, which means you are probably about ready to plan some trips to the pool! With young children it is so important to have a pool safety pow-wow before you venture out to the pool. It is even more important if you have a pool on your property. The most important concept to keep in mind when it comes to water safety is that it only takes a second for a child to go under. Here are some tips that will help you keep your children safe around the crystal blue waters. (Keep in mind that these tips are also true for ocean, lake and river play, in addition to the safety concerns of playing in a “live” water environment)
General Pool Safety
- Unless your child has demonstrated a solid ability to swim on their own, they should be wearing a life vest. It is also important that you have the right size and fit for your child, and that it is properly fastened. If you are “teaching” your child to swim, you should remove the vest only when you are in the water with them, and within arms reach.
- Never multi-task while you are the person watching the children in the pool. Don’t read a book, don’t cook dinner, and don’t talk on your phone. Again it only takes a moment for a child to go under silently and if you are not alert and paying attention your few second window to save them might pass.
- No running around the deck of the pool. This is a two fold rule – the deck might be wet and a slip and fall can be disastrous on concrete but also could cause someone to fall into the water.
Public Pool Safety
- Review the rules of the particular rules of the pool you are visiting with your children. You also want to point out where the lifeguards are, as well as what parts of the pool are acceptable play areas for your children and their ability.
- Do not rely solely on the eyes of the guards on duty. There are all sorts of factors can cause a guard to overlook something. This is especially important if there are a large number of children in the pool.
- Feel free to ask the pool staff about their training. You want to be sure that they are up to date, not to mention properly equipped to handle emergency situations.
- If you are using a community pool (like at an apartment complex or hotel) and it is posted that no lifeguard is on duty treat the pool as if it was in your home and follow the home pool safety tips.
Home Pool Safety
- If you are not out by the pool, your children should not have access to the pool. This mean that the ladder should be removed from an above ground pool or that a gate should be locked leading into an in-ground pool. Just telling your younger children that they can’t be in there without you is not enough, you have to make it so that they are unable to get into the water without your help.
- Always clean up all the toys and do not leave any floating on the surface. Children, especially under the age of 5, do not always understand the physics of leaning over the edge to grab a toy. This means that they could slip right into the water without so much as a squeak. So simply remove the temptation by cleaning up all the toys each time you use the pool. This will also prolong the life of your filtration system, as you will not have to worry about items getting stuck in the pump.
- If you own a pool, you should seriously consider becoming CPR certified. In most states it is a single Saturday spent at the community center to learn the basic skills for CPR but the knowledge will last a life time and can save a life when properly administrated.
- Put together a poolside safety kit. It should have basic first aid items along with a breathing mask. You also want to have a large sturdy set of scissors near the pool – but in a safe place away from little ones. These might become necessary if someone’s hair gets snagged by the pump and/or vacuum or if someone has slipped under the pool cover and you need fast access to them. You should also bring a phone out to the pool with you each time you play, so that you can quickly dial 911 in case of emergency.
- Always go over the rules with visitors. And if you are having a pool party, try to stick to the rule of 1 pair of adult eyes for every 5 kids in the water.
- Pool Safety extends to the maintenance of your pool. You need to be well educated in terms of the chemicals used to keep your pool clean. It is possible to put the wrong mixtures in, resulting in burning or other skin irritations. Even if you have a professional pool keeper, you should still have a basic knowledge of what’s in your pool and what to look for.
Remember that pool play is super fun and also great exercise – making it the perfect summertime activity. Being alert and aware will help keep the fun going all summer long.