Swimming is not just a fun activity, but it’s also one of the best forms of exercise. During summer, many families spend quality time together and have fun in a backyard pool. While a backyard pool is beneficial for kids, it also comes with a huge responsibility for parents to ensure that everyone is safe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning kills more children aged between 1 to 4 years than anything else except congenital disabilities. Drowning can happen quickly, but adults can play a crucial role in protecting kids and keeping them safe.
Top Tips for Swimming Pool Safety
Always Keep an Eye on the Children
Children must never be left unattended when they’re in or near the water. One person must be a designated water watcher – an adult whose only task is to supervise the children in the water. The person on ‘water-watching’ duty must have a phone close by in case they need to call for help.
Even if there is a lifeguard present, parents must insist on having a designated water watcher. Sometimes a lifeguard may not see the entire pool, or other patrons could block their view. It’s also important to know what a child in distress looks like. A child may drown when they’re vertical in the water, with their head tipped back. It’s important to know, a child rarely splashes or yells for help.
Teach Children How to Swim
Swimming is an essential life skill, and it’s vital to teach children how to swim. Children can be enrolled in swimming classes when they’re ready physically and emotionally. The aim is to make young children comfortable in the water, so they learn to swim when they’re developmentally prepared and stay safe. Parents must remember that swimming lessons are not just a fun activity but also a healthcare priority.
Teach Children to Stay Away from Drains
Children must not play or swim near drains or suction outlets. Children’s hair, limbs, bathing suits, or jewelry could get stuck in these drains. It’s recommended to know the emergency vacuum shut-off location before using the pool or spa.
Children must never enter a pool or spa with a loose, broken, or missing drain cover. All public pools and spas must ensure drain covers or gates meet all the required safety standards.
Installation of Proper Barriers, Covers, and Alarms Around the Pool or Spa
A fence with a height of at least 4 feet must be installed surrounding the pool or spa, and children must not be able to climb it. The only way to access the water should be through a self-closing and self-latching gate. A door alarm can be installed from the home to the pool area. Teach children never to climb the fence or gate.
Have an Emergency Plan in Place
Learning basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to perform it on children and adults can help save a life. CPR instructions could also be printed and displayed inside the pool gate in case anyone needs them.
Keep Your Phone Away
If you’re the designated water watcher, then you shouldn’t be reading, texting, or playing games on your phone. There shouldn’t be any distractions while watching the children.
The Right Flotation Devices
Floaties, water wings, inner tubes, etc., are pool toys and not floatation devices. Always use flotation devices that are ‘Coast Guard approved’.
Teach Your Children About Water Safety
Parents must teach the children about the different aspects of water safety. Young children must be taught that, like cars, water can be dangerous. Parents must teach children that just as they shouldn’t cross the street without a grown-up, they must also not go near the water without an adult. This message must be regularly reinforced. (Rosen and Kramer, 2019)
Share Information With Other Parents
Parents must share information with other parents about their plan to keep their kids safe. This can also be an opportunity to change pool laws and ensure better pool safety regulations.
Pools are meant to be enjoyed. It’s essential that everyone follows these simple steps to ensure safety in and around the water. Stay safe, have fun and enjoy your time with friends and family during swim season. The key is making sure everyone is informed, especially young children.
CDC. “Drowning Prevention.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Feb. 2019, www.cdc.gov/safechild/drowning/.
Pool Safely. “Safety Tips.” Pool Safely, www.poolsafely.gov/parents/safety-tips/.
Rosen, Peg, and Pamela Kramer. “Home Swimming Pool Safety Tips All Parents Should Know.” Parents, 13 Feb. 2019, www.parents.com/kids/safety/outdoor/pool-drowning-safety-tips-for-parents/.