How to Make the Pool Area Safe for Kids

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The clouds are finally clearing and temperatures are back into double figures. Winter is over and you can finally enjoy that glorious sunshine and your swimming pool. But before you take that winter pool cover off, you should be aware of some of the risks.

According to the CDC, children between the ages of 1 and 4 have the highest drowning risk. In the United States alone, there are ten accidental drownings per day. Don’t let your kids into the water before you read through the following safety tips for your pool.

Set the rules. Part of being a parent is setting ground rules for every activity. No matter how often your kids have been swimming, repeat the rules every time they step into your pool area. For example, no running, shut the gates, and never throw toys. Have them repeat the rules to you just to make sure they’ve been listening!

Have first aid equipment. Even if you prepare carefully and have done everything to set up a safe pool area, accidents can happen. That’s why you should have adequate life saving equipment at your disposal. We’re talking the full monty here: a decent first aid kit, a long pole, as well as rescue buoys. These should not be accessible to children and they should be checked and maintained on a regular basis.

Adults supervision. Children must be supervised at all times, no excuses. Even if your child has attended lessons and is a strong swimmer, make sure at least one adult is poolside. And we’re talking properly watching the children. Occasional glances while working the BBQ don’t count!

Do not consume alcohol. Alcohol is a big no-no for the designated lifeguard. Even a couple of beers can lead to reduced balance, judgment, and coordination. The sun will only exacerbate the effects, so stick to water and coke while you’re ‘on duty’!

Know what to do in case of emergency. Products won’t help you if you don’t know how to use them. Always be aware of what you should do in case of an emergency. It helps to attend a first aid course on a regular basis, for example.

Barriers = compulsory. Your pool should never be accessible to young children. Pool fencing and other similar barriers will prevent children from jumping into the water without your knowledge or supervision. We recommend four-sided fencing, as it reduces drowning by 83% compared to the three-sided varieties.

Alarm your pool. Kids always find a way to do the things you don’t want them to. In addition to barrier installation, we recommend you invest in a decent set of alarms. For example, you could have an alarm system that shoots a beam of light around the perimeter of your pool. Whenever someone crosses it (e.g. your mischievous toddler!), the alarm will start blaring.

Be aware of local laws. Safety isn’t just a smart move, it’s the law. Every country, state, county and local council usually has its own specific requirements. In America these rules vary from state to state, whilst in Australia, for example, every pool  requires a safety fence around it.

Make sure your kids know how to swim. Research has shown that formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by as much as 88%. Don’t let children that haven’t had lessons into your pool.

Life jackets are a must. For kids that are not mature swimmers or are under 3 years of age, life jackets are an absolute must. They’re annoying and kids will undoubtedly complain, but these products save lives.

Invest in non-slip surfaces. The poolside should always be covered with a quality non-slip surface. Children are prone to forgetting your warnings and running like, well, children. A decent surface can make a drastic difference to the safety of your pool area.

Once done, clean up. Once the party is over, clean up your pool as well as the surrounding areas. Any floating toys should be removed, as they can attract attention and tempt children to jump back in when unsupervised.

Guest post by Bob Gorman

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About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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