Swimming pools are a great place for families to go to have fun and spend quality together. However, it’s important to know and follow pool safety steps for in and around the water, to help lessen the chances of injury or drowning.
Defining an emergency
For some kids, it can be difficult to determine what is and isn’t an emergency. It may be helpful to teach kids the difference between something being dangerous, such as cleaning supplies left unattended, and someone being hurt, such as if a sibling were to ingest those cleaning supplies. They also should know how to identify the potential for someone to be hurt, such as when there is a fire in the home.
Since 69% of young children who have drowned were not expected to be in or near water3, it’s more important than ever to not only keep an eye on them, but to understand these safety rules.
There are multiple safety tips you should familiarize yourself with, to help protect your children while at the pool.
1. Never leave a child unattended in or near water
Make sure to always keep an eye on them by designating a specific Water Watcher, who will solely focus their attention on them, with no distractions. Even a lifeguard who is present could get distracted by another incident, so it’s important to always have a Water Watcher.
Additionally, whenever children age 5 or under are in or around water, you should be within arm’s length of them, providing “touch supervision”1 Avoid “floaties,” as they aren’t a substitute for approved life preservers and create a false sense of security.1
Keep a phone nearby in case you need to call for help and keep rescue equipment nearby, including a shepherd’s hook and a life preserver1
2. Teach children how to swim
If you’re on a budget, there may be free or reduced cost-options in your area, such as a local YMCA.2
3. Teach children to stay away from drains
Forbid children from playing near drains or suctions outlets, especially in spas and shallow pools.
Also, never enter a pool or spa that has a loose, broken, or missing drain cover. Children’s hair, limbs, jewelry, or bathing suits can get stuck in a drain or suction opening.2 Before entering the water, make sure to locate the emergency vacuum shutoff. It’s always better to be prepared in case of emergency.
Furthermore, ensure all pools and spas, both in your backyard and any public pool you may visit, have compliant drain covers. Powerful suction from a spa or pool drain are strong enough to even trap an adult.2
Not only is swimming fun, but it’s a lifesaving skill. Hence, it’s important to enroll your children in swimming lessons.
To help them prepare to answer these questions in an emergency situation, consider role-playing with the child where they have to recite their address, tell you what their parent’s name is, and what scenarios would require them seeking emergency help. Ask them questions such as, “What would you do if you saw a ton of smoke and I wasn’t around?” Or, “What should you do if I fall down and you can’t wake me up?” Walk them through the scenarios so they know how to respond in each case.1
4. Install proper barriers, fences, covers, and alarms on and around your pool or spa
It’s important to take these additional precautions, as they can be lifesaving devices.
A fence at least four feet tall should surround the pool or spa on all sides and shouldn’t be climbable for children.2 The water should only be accessible through a self-closing, self-latching gate. Children should be taught to never climb a gate, as not only does it protect them from entering the pool area, but they can cause themselves injury trying to climb the gate itself.
Another safety measure you should take is to install a door alarm from your house to the pool area, and to make sure pool and spa covers are in working order.
If a child is missing, check the water first.3
5. Know how to perform CPR on children and adults
Finally, knowing CPR can help save a life in any situation. To learn CPR, you can sign up for classes, which are often available through hospitals, community centers, or by contacting the American Red Cross.
- Healthychildren.org, Swim Safety Tips, 2018
- Poolsafely.gov, Safety Tips
- Redcross.org, Home Pool & Hot Tub Safety, 2020
Categories: Home Safety/Childproofing, Safety Tips