Summer brings with it all the fun of being outdoors. Now is the time to review some of the basics of pool safety, especially since drowning is the second most prevalent cause of death for children under the age of 14. More than half of those incidents occur during the summer months. Make safety a habit as commonplace as buying pool supplies to keep little ones secure while in the water.
- Teach children how to swim. Consider setting a goal with children who are scared, such as starting lessons at home when you first open your pool and joining a swim class at an indoor facility by the end of the season. Community organizations and pools offer classes that teach children of all ages to swim, including infants and toddlers.
- Don’t substitute floatation devices for swimming lessons or supervision. Swimming is a tool that will keep your child alive if you are not around. While kids are learning to swim, adults can take classes in CPR and rescue first aid. Anyone who might serve as a caregiver, including babysitters, grandparents and older siblings, should know what to do if the unthinkable happens. You could even make learning CPR a family affair.
- Put a barrier between the pool and kids. Swimming pools can have an almost-magnetic effect on children. Home pools should have a fence to limit access. This measure protects not only and your child, but any other young person that might wander by and be unable to resist the temptation to get in the water. Keep the pool area tidy and free of toys. Don’t leave anything around that might draw children to the edge of the water. The pool should also have a cover or alarms on the gates as a secondary defense.
- Use a drain cover or other safety device to prevent the risk of entrapment, which is a common cause of drowning. Children can stick their hands or feet into drains and vacuum systems and become stuck.
- Do not keep pool chemicals out in the open. The pool supplies you use to treat the water, such as chlorine, can be toxic. Just moving them to the garage is not enough. Store your chemicals in a locked area like a shed or cabinet.
- Establish some rules for kids when they are in the pool. Children need rules to guide their behavior and set boundaries. Make a list and go over it each year with kids whether they will be swimming at home or in a community pool. Set the limits and make sure they follow them.
- Do not allow solo swimming. Drill into your child that swimming is something that requires adult supervision.
- Do not permit running around the pool area. Pool edges will be wet and slippery. A child can fall and become injured.
- Do not allow horseplay in the pool. Things like holding each other underwater or fighting can lead to banged heads or accidental drowning.
- Do set pool depth boundaries. Teach your child where the deep end is and how to distinguish it from the shallow side. A child who has not proven he can swim should be limited to the shallow water.
Be proactive when it comes to pool safety. The pool is all about having fun, but it should be about staying safe as well. Summer helps creates some of the most memorable times during childhood. Keeping your children out of harm’s way in the water will help those fun times be great.
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Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to maintain pool safety.