The sun, big splashes, poolside treats…The pool is a great place to bring kids to play during the summer break. However, school doesn’t prepare our kids for how to be safe at the pool.
According to the CDC, one out of five drowning deaths happens with children 14 years old and younger. And for every death, five more children are treated for submersion injuries. Practicing preventive parenting by the pool can help keep your child safe and out of the E.R. this summer.
Try these tips to ensure your child’s safety whether at a public pool or in your own backyard.
1. Keep Your Eyes on Your Child at All Times
One of the most dangerous distractions when it comes to parenting at the pool, is the overuse of our phones. It might be enticing to scroll through social media while the kids are finally entertaining themselves for the first time all summer. But save the scrolling for when you’re not at the pool. If you know your phone is going to be a distraction, turn it off and keep it your pool bag.
If your child is invited to a pool party, don’t drop them off and go run errands. Go to the party with them. Before going to the party, make sure you check with the pool-owning parents to find out what safety measures they’re taking. Also, be sure your child knows the pool rules and share your own expectations.
2. Take Measures to Make Your Own Pool Safer
Parenting by the pool becomes even more of a priority when you have your own pool at home. And it’s important to make it safe for everyone—especially children— with a secure safety fence (which should keep unwanted guests out) and a cover to prevent anyone from accidentally calling in when the pool is not in use.
Before going out to the pool, review your safety measures with your kids and guests and share the consequences for habitually violating the rules. You can also post the rules out by the pool as a reminder. This will keep you from being the killjoy who’s shouting at every infraction.
Here are a few suggested rules:
- No kids in the pool unless an adult is present (if you have older teens, nobody in the pool by themselves might be a better rule).
- Do not open the fence without an adult present.
- No breath-holding games as they can be dangerous.
- Limit roughhousing and horseplay in the pool.
- Never jump onto a swimmer.
- Stay away from drains, as they can trap you underwater.
3. Teach Your Children to Swim
Teaching your child to swim is one of the easiest ways you can guard them against a submersion-related injury. If you are not confident enough in your own swimming skills to teach your child to swim, sign up for lessons in your area. Most county rec centers and local organizations offer classes at reasonable prices. Research has shown that formal swimming lessons significantly reduce the risk of drowning.
Since teaching your child to swim won’t completely protect them, you should still practice safe parenting by the pool any time you take your kid swimming. While lifeguards are helpful in keeping our kids safe in the public pool, parents should be alert when at the pool. And pick a time to get in the water with them so you can have fun too!
4. Be Prepared for the Worst
No parent wants to think about the possibility of their child suffering a submersion injury, but preparing for it is the best defense for the worst possible scenario. You can learn CPR and hopefully never have to use it, but it will help you save a life if ever needed.
There is no way to ensure your children will be 100% safe around the pool—scrapes and bruises are common—but when you set rules, talk to your kids and stay alert when you’re poolside, it can reduce the chance of anything happening to spoil the fun.
Anna covers pool and backyard safety for All Safe Pool Fence and Covers to help parents and homeowners understand how to reduce the risks and dangers of water, and promote safer environments for children and pets.