There is nothing better than a cold swimming pool on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, this fun activity can also be very dangerous, especially when children are involved. According to the American Red Cross, over 200 children drown in backyard swimming pools each year and there are also countless injuries caused as well. I don’t have kids of my own, but I spent most of my childhood summers at my neighborhood pool growing up and then was a lifeguard there for eight consecutive summers. I’m all too familiar with the potential dangers a pool presents and have put together a short list of top swimming pool safety tips.
Never allow anyone to swim alone, especially children!
Always make sure that any children swimming have adult supervision. It doesn’t matter where they are swimming – teach your children that it is never safe to swim alone. This is most important for kids under the age of 4. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water, and quickly. Even if there is a lifeguard on duty, you are still responsible for watching after your children.
Put the cell phone down.
It doesn’t do any good to make sure the kids aren’t swimming without an adult if you are distracted. Put down your cell phone, that good book you’re reading, or anything else that might take your attention away from the kids in the pool.
Secure the pool with barriers.
Four-sided fencing or other barriers that are at least four feet tall should be installed at your pool. The pool area should also be gated.
Regularly test chemicals.
It probably goes without saying, but maintaining proper chemical levels in the swimming pool is extremely important for the health of the children or anyone else swimming in it. This will minimize the risk of rashes, ear aches or other more serious diseases.
No running around the pool.
At our neighborhood pool, no running was ever tolerated around the pool area. It was by far the least popular rule, but it was strictly enforced because most of our injuries occurred from a kid breaking it. No running around the pool should ever be tolerated at your home pool either.
Parents or other guardians who watch after children have a lot on their plate, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. Not only is CPR important for swimming safety, but anytime you are around water. You never know when this set of skills could be put into action and save a life. The sooner CPR is initiated after an accident, the better chance there is of survival. So, go get your certification ASAP.
Check the drains.
Teach your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and to never play or swim near the drains or suction outlets. If you do have drains, protective measures include anti-entrapment covers and a safety vacuum release system to automatically release suction should entrapment occur. Go to www.poolsafety.gov for a list of manufacturers of certified covers.
Gate and door alarms.
Consider installing a door or gate alarm to alert you when someone, possibly a child, enters the pool area. Too many child drownings occur when the parent was unaware their child was even in the pool area.
Make sure your kids know how to swim.
This may sound like a no brainer, but there are many adults and children that do not really know how to swim. Having your kids participate in a formal swimming lesson could greatly reduce their risk of drowning.
Click here for more swimming pool safety tips and other resources from the American Red Cross. Have a safe and happy summer!