When we lived in Georgia, the only time my kids were really around water was when we went on vacation. Because we were only in the pool for an hour here and there, and we were always together, we weren’t very nervous about any pool side dangers. Then, we moved to California, and to a neighborhood that more that half of the homes, including ours, has an in-ground pool. This made pool safety a year round, even when you are at your friends’ houses, reality and concern.
Kids are drawn to water, and pools especially, because they are so much fun but they can also be very dangerous if precautions are not taken. Follow these 10 tips to keep your little ones safer around pools this summer.
1. No Solo Swimming
This is one that my big kids fight me on, but it is very important that all kids understand that even adults should swim in pairs. Drowning is very quiet and if someone is not right there, they will not know that the swimmer is in distress. Even if your kids are teens and fantastic swimmers, make sure that someone else is either swimming with them or out side watching them because accidents happen, people get cramps while under water and lose their breath, pets jump in on top of swimmers-it’s just best to have more than one in the pool at all times.
2. Hands off
We have a hands off policy in the pool from the middle to deep end. Kids often get carried away and between trying to flip each other over or dunk each other under, can accidentally cause real harm to one another. If everyone’s feet can touch the floor flat it’s okay to play but once tip toes are being used, there’s no tugging, dragging, piggy backing, dunking or any other physical horseplay.
3. Take the toys out
Toys left in pools, after you get out, are too tempting for little kids and pets. Be sure to pull them all out at the end of your swimming. This include floating chlorine dispensers – to a kids, they look like little boats to play with.
4. Floatation Devices
For safety reasons you’ll want to have floaties, noodles, a life saver – any or an assortment of a few flotation devices even with good swimmers.
5. Get a gate
You definitely want a gate around your pool. The pool gate needs to be strong, locking and not easily climbed or manipulated by little hands. Also, make sure there are no chairs or other climbable items near the gate that might help little ones climb over it.
6. Go to Pool Parties
It would be great if you could trust that your child was being watched as well at a friend’s house as you watch them at your own. That just isn’t realistic, and it isn’t a chance you want to take. If you or someone that you know to be a cautious observer will not be at the party, I suggest avoiding it all together.
7. Keep eye contact
When watching kids swim, don’t get distracted with your guests, your electronics or a nap. It’s very important to maintain eye contact so that you can spot trouble immediately.
8. Avoid Drains
Teach your children to avoid playing with or around the drains as they have suction and can catch hair, fingers, clothing, etc. Explain to them how they can and will be hurt if they play with drains and the pool pump suction holes on the side walls. It’s also best to turn your pool pump off while the kids are swimming, although most public pools must keep them running to keep their water fresh with so many swimmers.
9. Make the pool your first stop when looking for a child
If you can’t find your child, look in the pool FIRST. When a child is in or around a pool/hot tub unsupervised, time is extremely important so you want to make that your first stop when looking for a missing child.
10. Learn to swim
If you haven’t learned, learn. You never know when you are going to need to jump in and help your child or anyone else and if you can not swim, how can you? Our local college offers adult classes and you can also look at your local gym, YMCA or swimming facility.