The information in this post about pool safety are loose guidelines and should be tempered by your own common sense and consideration for each situation. This is not intended as iron-clad advice or a guarantee of safety at the pool.
It’s summer, and for our family that means pool days are here! Here in Northern Virginia we go to the pool pretty much every single afternoon, so pool days are a way of life. Whether you go to the pool once per day, once per week, or two or three times per summer – it’s super important that you and your kids do your part to stay safe.
So, here are ten ways to stay safe at the pool this summer:
Don’t Depend on the Lifeguards to Keep Your Kids Safe at the Pool
I’ll never forget one summer in California, watching one of the lifeguards who was supposed to be watching my children swim — but was actually falling asleep on the stand. Don’t ever trust the lifeguard on duty to do their job! I feel like most lifeguards are responsible people, but mistakes happen to all of us! For that reason, it is your responsibility to keep an eye on your kids even if there is a lifeguard on duty.
Make your Kids Practice the Buddy System to Help Them Stay Safe at the Pool
Kids swimming with friends are far more likely to be noticed if one of them gets into trouble. Friends should be told to watch out for each other, stay together, and shout for a lifeguard if they see anything that isn’t normal behavior from their friends. You can even have your kids take a water safety course and learn the signs of silent drowning. Kids should also be told not to attempt a rescue themselves, but to alert the nearest lifeguard and grown-up until someone pays attention. The buddy system is especially important at larger waterparks where older tweens and teens might be allowed to go off on their own if they stay together.
Use Sunscreen to Keep Kids Safe in the Pool
Although we only need sunscreen the first few weeks of summer to prevent burning, we keep applying it all summer long to help prevent skin cancer. I like to pick this version with no parabens but will use almost any sunscreen in a pinch.
Take Breaks at the Pool to Keep Kids Safe
Taking breaks is a must and has been proven to lower rates of incidents in the pool. Most pools will enforce a ten or fifteen minute break on the hour, and you should use this opportunity to have your kids sit, reapply sunscreen, maybe get a snack, and just generally rest. The longer you stay at the pool, the more important it is that you take hourly breaks from the water, even if it is not a pool rule. Swimming takes far more energy than movement outside the water so we tire out faster than we think. Check out our twenty tips for moms at the pool for ideas on what to take along for break time.
Make your Kids Pass a Swim Test
I was shocked earlier this summer to learn that certain larger pools in central Ohio don’t require swim tests for kids to go into the deep end. To me this is simply ludicrous. Kids in the deep end of large public pools should need a band. I realize it is a logistical nightmare, but is far better than a legal liability nightmare! Moms – even if your kids do not have to pass a swim test to go in the deep end at your pool, you are the mom. Make them pass a swim test of your own making!
Kids should be able to swim the length of the pool without touching and then tread water for at least one minute as a minimum before swimming in the deep end. During the middle years when strength proportionate to body mass waxes and wanes through growth periods, kids should be re-tested each year.
Know the Signs of Drowning Before you Go
Drowning is a silent killer that claims 4,000 people per year in the United States. I say that it is silent because people who are drowning cannot ask for help and often do not realize they need help until it is too late. Of course you want to keep your kids from ever getting to that point, but you should still be informed about what to watch for. Also – please note that even experienced swimmers on swim teams can drown.
Only Use Approved Independent Flotation Devices and Don’t Count on Them to Prevent Drowning
Very few independent flotation devices for young children have been approved for safe use as a life jacket by the US Coast Guard, and even when you use one that has been approved like these Puddle Jumpers, you need to be within arms length of your young child at all times. Wings like the ones in the pinnable photo in this post are not a safety net to prevent drowning! Do not ever think you can put a baby or toddler or non-swimming child in wing floats or any other floatation device and walk away. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Avoid Large Crowds to Keep Safe at the Pool
At our local pool we have a couple hours twice a week when a local summer daycare brings their kids to swim. I avoid those hours like the plague, and I’ve been criticized for it by people who think I’m being a snob. The truth is, the very crowded pool conditions that result scare me, and the crowded conditions irritate my kids. Far better to go before or after and have sixty less kids in the pool. Crowded pool conditions make it harder for lifeguards and parents to do their jobs keeping an eye on the safety of each swimmer. It might take a little while, but figure out when your local pool has the smallest crowds and then plan your pool times accordingly.
Pay for Swim Lessons and Pool Safety Seminars for your Kids
One of the best things we have done for our kids is to pay for the Red Cross Swim Lessons where they are taught how to swim and also about pool safety. This is a big deal. Everyone needs to know how to swim and what to do if they see someone drowning. Learning to swim is not optional in our family – this is a life saving skill. Make sure you grab this free checklist for kids to get ready for the pool because getting out the door for swim lessons can be super tough.
Keep Your Kids Away From the Drains and Suction Outlets
Pool drains are a true safety hazard and parents just do not realize how dangerous these are. I remember playing with the suction outlets all the time when I was growing up and at the pool. Hair, clothing, limbs, and even medical jewelry can get stuck in pool drains or suction outlets and create a life threatening situation very quickly. Also check to make sure your pool has all drains properly covered.
By the way. . .
Moms need to stay safe at the pool too! Use sunscreen, and definitely wear a pair of UV sunglasses since you will be scanning the pool into the sun to find your kids at some point. I’ve forgotten my sunglasses on pool days more than once and it is always a cause for regret and concern and general discomfort. A few of my blogging friends and I are giving away these FABULOUS sunglasses and the winner is going to love them!
Welcome to our Chanel Sunglasses Giveaway
Hey – I know this giveaway is going to give you some instruction for commenting on this post. Will you please use the words “Here’s how we stay safe in the pool” in your comment and give us another tip or expand on something about swimming pool safety? Add to the conversation and help me out at the same time!
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Giveaway ends on 7/17/17 11:59pm EST and is open to US residents only (excludes Alaska and Hawaii)
Disclaimer: This Chanel sunglasses was purchased from Zulily