(Written by Mark Tomich and Edited by Elle Yi) Swimming pools are a great way to keep the kids entertained as well as keeping them fit and healthy during the summer. Most kids would happily switch off their beloved games console or television show to have some outdoor fun in the pool on a sunny day.
Although there are many benefits to having a swimming pool, they can also be very dangerous if not set up correctly. According to Center of Disease Control and Prevention, every day about 2 children aged 14 or younger drown in the United States. Almost all of these incidents could be prevented by following some basic pool safety rules.
- Supervising and protecting your children
Children should always be supervised around the pool — it only takes a few moments for a child to drown, so never leave them alone. Safety equipment such as life jackets should also be considered, particularly for weaker swimmers. However, these shouldn’t take the place of supervision.
Having fencing around your pool is essential, but there’s no point having it if you leave climbable items around it or prop the gate open – so avoid doing either of these.
Pool dangers aren’t only in the water. Chemicals used to keep your pool clean are poisonous to humans, so should be well hidden from your children – in a locked shed is ideal. Pool filters should also be covered to prevent small children from climbing or falling into them.
- Teach them to swim
The sooner your children learn to swim, the better. Kids as young as two years old are capable of learning how to swim, which will be a lifesaving skill if for some reason they find themselves alone in a pool or any body of water.
When choosing a swimming teacher, particularly for slightly older children, look for classes that offer lessons in staying safe in the water as well as simply being able to swim. These sorts of skills will come in handy not only if they find themselves in danger, but if someone else in the swimming pool is in trouble too.
You might also want to consider enrolling your older children in a first aid course. Understanding basic first aid is an essential skill not only around the pool but in everyday life. St John’s Ambulance offer a variety of well-priced courses suitable for children and adults.
- Fencing around the pool
Not only is fencing around pools the best way to keep children safe, it is a legal requirement for all outdoor swimming pools in Australia. The best type of fencing has child-proof, self-closing gates so you can be confident that your young children can not get access to the swimming pool even when you have your back turned.
There are all types of pool fencing, so you can find one that is both effective and suits the style and feel of your backyard. Glass pool fencing is a popular choice as it doesn’t make the area feel cluttered and it gives a nice modern, sleek feel.
- Safety Equipment
It is important to always have safety equipment ready at hand, and to make sure your children know where it is by heart. Specifically, be sure to have safety jackets lying around. Other flotation devices such as ring buoys should be available in or right next to the pool. Also have a reaching pole with a double blunt end crook ready in case of emergencies.
Finally, use a pool alarm. It can be connected to the house, so that if something falls into the pool, you would be notified straight away and be able to prevent any accidents.
- Set pool rules
Undoubtedly, kids think of swimming pools as a place to play games, splash around and have fun — rarely are they thinking of the potential dangers that they pose. Before your children are allowed to use your swimming pool, make sure they are well-educated on what constitutes safe pool time — and what consequences exist if they don’t follow these rules.
Write up a list of do’s and don’ts and have it laminated and clearly posted up at the entrance to the swimming pool. Some ideas for rules include not running near the pool, always letting an adult know when they intend on going in the pool, never being in the pool alone and no glass items.
About the author: Mark Tomich is a father of two awesome children that he loves to spend as much of his time with as possible. As you may imagine, his primary goal is keeping them safe from harm.