Is there anything that says summer more than long, leisurely days by the pool? It’s so fun to spend time enjoying the water; if you grew up swimming frequently, you’re probably eager to see your children enjoying time in the pool as well.
However, while pool days can be fun and include cherished family time, it’s also extremely important to put safeguards in place to protect your children and family.
Drowning is the top cause of unintentional death in young children (ages 1 through 4) and a leading cause of death among children of all ages. It’s scary because it only takes a second for a child to slip beneath the water, even if parents or other adults are nearby.
We’ve put together a list of tips to help you ensure your children and family stay safe in the pool this summer.
1. Designate an adult in charge.
Just having adults present at the pool seems like it would provide a layer of protection; however, research has shown that there is an adult present 88 percent of the time when a child drowning occurs.
Sometimes when more adults are present, it can be easy to fall into complacency and think that others are watching and on alert.
When spending time at the pool, designate a specific adult as in charge. While each parent can still watch their children, the adult in charge should be hyper-vigilant and focused on keeping everyone safe, as well as unafraid to step in and address risky or dangerous behavior.
This “water watcher” can wear a tag or bracelet as a physical reminder of their responsibilities, and the tag can be switched among watchers to ensure everyone has an opportunity to be more relaxed during pool time.
2. Make sure your children know how to swim.
Being able to swim won’t necessarily safeguard a child from drowning; however, it can help them to feel more comfortable in the water and keep them from panicking if a water situation occurs.
Children under age 4 typically are not developmentally ready to learn to swim but can still become familiar with the water. As children grow older, their swimming and water safety training should include:
- Being able to go underwater and return to the surface
- Being able to float or tread water for one minute
- Being able to turn and locate a pool exit
- Being able to swim 25 yards
- Being able to exit the pool even if a ladder or stairs are unavailable
3. As a parent or guardian, learn CPR.
In the event that something terrible happens at the pool and a child or fellow adult becomes unconscious, the best thing you can do is know CPR and be comfortable with performing it.
The American Red Cross provides CPR training and certification, and many local organizations, including gyms, preschools, libraries and other organizations, may offer CPR training occasionally.
4. Always remove portable pool ladders when not in use.
If you have the ability to remove your pool’s ladder (particularly for above ground pool options), take time to do this each and every time you and your family stop playing in the pool.
By removing the option to enter the pool unless you are available, you can reduce the possibility that your child has access to the water.
5. Ensure all permanent pools have a proper fence, gate and drain covers.
Fences surrounding pool areas should be at least 4 feet tall. They should not block your line of sight from the house to the pool, but at the same time, they should not have gaps or spaces in the fence wide enough for small people to slide through.
Fences and gates should have appropriate locks and latches that are positioned above the child’s reach and that are too complicated for a child to unlatch on their own.
Appropriate drain covers should be kept on pool drains at all times and children should be encouraged to stay away from drains. Hair and clothing can easily become caught in a drain’s auction, which can cause serious injury.
6. Secure your back door.
You can help prevent the possibility that your children reach the water unaccompanied by adding extra security precautions on the back door of your home.
For example, you can use a key-only deadbolt, attach a chain or nightlatch out of reach of small hands, or add an alarm that sounds when the door is opened.
7. If you’re hosting a party, hire a lifeguard.
It may seem like a silly extra expense to pay for a lifeguard at your own home. However, as the event host, you probably won’t be able to give the pool your full attention. By having at least one person who can be dedicated to the pool and responsible for assisting with pool safety, you’ll give yourself some additional peace of mind and add to everyone’s enjoyment.
As the summer continues to heat up, spending time in the water gives a welcome respite from triple digit temperatures. You’ll enjoy your pool time the most if you take precautions to ensure your family and friends are safe in the water.
If you experience a pool-related emergency, call 911 immediately. If you have an unexpected situation and need some peace of mind after a pool incident, visit us at Prime Urgent Care.