A swimming pool can provide years of fun and great memories for everyone in the family. Swimming also provides beneficial fitness, and teaches kids that healthy exercise can be fun. Swimming pools can also present real dangers, however. In most cases of accidental drowning, the child was out of their parent’s sight for less than five minutes.
Constant adult supervision is the best method for ensuring child safety, but there is still more that you can do. Physically securing the environment, making sure children have a clear set of rules to follow, and ensuring that adults are always present and aware will make everyone’s pool experience safer. Following these guidelines can provide added protection and help to avoid a crisis.
If you have a pool in your yard or neighbourhood, there are steps you can take to provide appropriate physical security so that kids can’t accidentally get in. Most importantly, the pool should be completely surrounded by a fence that is at least four feet tall. If the fence is wooden, make sure that small children cannot squeeze between the slats. Also eliminate anything that could provide a stepping stool or foothold to help children climb over. If the pool is in your backyard, keep windows and doors locked so that children can’t get out of the house and into the yard without supervision.
Install a self-locking latch on the fence gate and add a gate alarm to warn you if someone is trying to enter. You should also consider installing a pool alarm. These devices sound an alarm and send a signal to an in-house receiver if someone enters the pool.
The Royal Life Saving Society of Australia, an organisation dedicated to preventing the drowning deaths of young children, offers this pool safety checklist as a guide to make sure your pool is as safe as it can be. You can also download the information as an interactive safety checklist for your iPhone.
Set clear rules for children
Create a set of rules that everyone in the family follows. Adults and older children can provide a good example for younger children. Some of the most important rules include:
- Never swim without an adult nearby. Even excellent swimmers may run into problems and need help
- Keep pool tools picked up so that nobody trips or falls
- No running around the pool
- Always use sunscreen to prevent burns
Precautions for adults
When monitoring children playing by the pool, always keep your attention on them. This applies especially to young children. Don’t read a book or divide your attention, you need to be on full alert. For children under five, you should always stay within arms reach.
If you live near a pool, make sure that your children know how to swim. Classes are available for even very young children. The AUSTSWIM National Council can help you find a certified swim instructor.
Anyone responsible for supervising kids near water should learn CPR. That includes friends and babysitters who might be responsible for the children when you aren’t around. Keep rescue equipment nearby and do a period check to make sure everything is in good working order. As an added precaution, keep a phone nearby in case of an emergency.
Having a pool is a responsibility, and you need to have the right safeguards in place. Pool safety is a serious topic, but with these precautions and active adult supervision at all times, kids can stay safe and everyone can enjoy hours of quality family time. Play safe and have fun!