Splashing around in the swimming pool is a warm weather favorite, but one that comes with many dangers. However, if you and your children enjoy the pool with precaution in mind, swimming becomes a much safer activity.
Perhaps the biggest danger of swimming is the risk of drowning, which is the second leading cause of death from injuries for children under age 14. What makes drowning so dangerous is how fast it happens—it takes less than two minutes for the oxygen to be cut off from the brain. In addition to drowning, children face the possibility of various other injuries, from bruises and scrapes to more serious injuries such as broken bones. To keep your children safe around the pool, utilize the following safety tips.
Children should always be supervised by a designated adult when in or around a swimming pool. For infants and toddlers, adults should be within arm’s reach in order to actively supervise swimming activities. For older children, adults can take a more passive role and watch from a lounge chair. However, do not let anything distract your attention away from supervising duties. A few seconds could mean the difference between saving a child’s life and not being able to help in time.
Additionally, children should never swim alone. Develop a buddy system and teach children to alert the supervising adult(s) if his or her buddy goes missing.
In addition to supervision, enforce general safety rules such as:
- No running
- Do not push or jump on others
- Only dive off the diving board
- Do not eat or chew gum while swimming to prevent choking
- Do not jump into the shallow end
- Always wear sunscreen
- Hydrate with water, even if you’re not thirsty
These rules are widely accepted by most public pools in order to keep swimming children safe. To provide the safest possible backyard pool environment, at least one supervising adult should take a CPR certification course.
Barriers and Other Equipment
Children, and even pets, can accidentally fall into a pool if it’s left unprotected. Install a 4-foot tall barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate to keep kids away from an unsupervised pool. For additional safety, install a pool cover (don’t forget a spa cover) and keep it covered when not in use.
Keep equipment nearby that you can use to reach or throw to kids while in the water. Beginner swimmers should wear proper flotation devices, rather than relying on water wings or other pool toys. Keep a phone and a first aid kit nearby in case of emergency.
Safe swimming relies heavily on the safety of the pool itself. Keep your pool clear of debris and maintain proper chemical levels to ensure the water’s safety. Additionally, install anti-entrapment drain covers and a vacuum release system, which you can activate to release the suction and shut down the pump if a child becomes entangled in the drain. Check these drain covers regularly and replace any cracked or broken units before getting into the water.
With safety on your side, get out there and enjoy a dip in the pool!