How to keep kids safe at the pool this summer
A little common sense and a lot of supervision can go a long way.
Thu, May 23, 2013 at 11:19 AM
Down here in Florida, our pool’s been open all year (jealous?). But for those of you in the rest of the country, pool season is just starting now, as the days get longer and the sun gets hotter. So what are some basic ways to keep your kids safe at the pool this summer?
Firstly, the number one way to keep your kids safe at the pool is constant adult supervision. Kids do not always yell for help when they fall in the water, so you can’t rely on that should an accident occur. Also, if your kids are missing, always check the pool first. You don’t want to waste any time should he have fallen in.
If you have a pool and young children living in or visiting your home often, make sure that it is surrounded on all sides by a pool fence. Pool fences like the ones made by Life Saver and Baby Guard save lives every day. You can also consider installing a surface wave alarm that will sound whenever it detects waves in the water. Some people complain that older versions are set off by strong wind or pool cleaners, so do your research before you buy. You can also disable it for when you want to use your pool — just make sure you turn it back on when you’re all done. (My friend’s alarm has a feature that automatically puts it back into regular alarm mode after a set amount of time.) You can also try a wristband for your child to wear that will sound an alarm if his wrist gets submerged in water. (The bathing beauty at right is wearing a green one.)
Even with all the fancy equipment, and especially without it, it’s important to teach your children proper pool safety: Never run around a pool, always swim with an adult watching you, and don’t jump on anyone in a pool or push anyone into a pool.
Some people make the mistake of relying too much on pool toys for their young children in the water. Water safety experts caution against this. A pool toy (like an inner tube or a floatie) is not a lifesaving device nor is it a substitute for proper supervision. What happens to a child who is wearing a life vest who gets flipped upside down? The life vest prevents him from getting right side up again.
So when is the right time to start swimming lessons for your child? You can start as young as 2 or 3 years old. If you have a pool or swim often, you can start even as young as 18 months, and you can take your children swimming even before that to get them comfortable in the water. A nifty little product? The Jujuroo Water Baby Carrier, a baby carrier that goes into the water and lets you swim with your little one hands-free.
Again, of all of the tips I mentioned above, nothing is more important than an adult watching a child at all times, distraction free (i.e. no smartphones!), to ensure their safety. Stay alert and be vigilant when you’re with your kids at the pool, and everyone is bound to have a great time.
Related summer safety stories on MNN:
- Keeping kids safe in the water
- Summer food safety tips
- An all-natural summer first-aid kit
- Home remedies for swimmer's ear
Inset photo: Safety Turtle