How to keep your family safe at the pool this summer
How to keep your family safe at the pool this summer
A family day at the pool, filled with Marco Polo, cannonballs and floating toys, can make for a picture-perfect summer day. But it can also present many safety concerns that parents and grandparents need to be prepared for. Whether you plan on spending time at your neighborhood public pool, will dip your toes into the hotel pool during a getaway or are a pool owner yourself, here are the things you should keep in mind while splishing and splashing.
Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children under 4, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. One great way to be prepared is to attend CPR classes and other emergency training to keep your family safe in any situation.
Sign up for swim lessons
Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88 percent, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. But that doesn't mean it will keep every kid safe. There is no evidence that swimming lessons can prevent drowning in infants under 12 months, the Academy also says. So it's important to stay very close and stay engaged (that means eyes off that phone).
Designate a watcher
It is important to never leave children unattended near a pool. If you need to leave the vicinity for any reason and there is no other adult to supervise the children, the kids should be vacating the pool and the surrounding area along with you. While the family is swimming, pick someone to be the "watcher" who can see everyone at all times.
While you're choosing your watcher, it would be a good idea to also choose a "buddy" who will keep each swimmer company in the water. Swimming with a buddy who is always nearby can help prevent an accident.
Follow the rules
It may seem obvious, but should still be said: Just follow the posted rules. If a pool has a no-diving sign, don't dive. If there is a sign that says the deck is slippery, proceed with caution. Be on the lookout for signs that indicate how to behave at a pool facility to help keep you and your family safe.
Stay away from drains
Drains and suction outlets can prove dangerous for children. Hair, bathing suits, limbs and jewelry could all get stuck in exposed pool drains and other outlets. Take some time to show your swimmers where the problems lie, or make sure that the drains and outlets are properly covered if the pool is in your yard.
Fence it off
It is important that owners of at-home pools have proper fencing around the area to keep children safe. A pool fence should be at least 4 feet high to properly block off the pool from the surrounding area and avoid accidents. Childproof locks are also important. Since kids like to be a bit mischievous, have a chat with them about the dangers of climbing the fence and entering a pool (yours or any other one) without supervision.
Cleanliness is key
This isn't just the "don't pee in the pool" tip. Sure, there are factors that help keep pools clean like the addition of chlorine and other chemicals to the water. But there are also things swimmers can do that will go a long way toward keeping pool water clean. Don't swim if you are ill, and take a shower before you jump in to rinse dirt and other germs off of the skin. Oh yeah - and don't pee in the pool. All of these things help prevent the spread of illness from the pool water.
Get the right gear
There is plenty of gear that can help keep your family safe in the water. Make sure children have secure flotation devices in their swimsuits, or put them in life jackets. It is also a good habit to make sure that the pool is equipped with a safety ring attached to a rope, as well as a lifesaver in case of emergencies.
Don't depend on just floaties
While we're on the topic of safety gear, a life vest is a safer choice for children than traditional inflatable arm floaties. Floaties or inflatable devices give parents and adults a false sense of security, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is important for adults to remember that they are not a good substitute for life jackets.
Check the score
Unlike the low scores your kids tried to hide from you during the school year, these are scores they'll definitely want you to check. If you are going to a public pool, you may be able to see how it scored on its latest inspection. Pools are regulated and scored by state government agencies to make sure that the facility is clean, healthy and safe. The best place to check would be somewhere on the location's website. You can also buy your own kits to test your water at home or even the water at your favorite pool.
Understand the science
What good would it be to see the test results but not know how to interpret them? That wouldn't be very helpful. The CDC recommends a proper pH of between 7.2 and 7.8 in any pool. The free chlorine concentration should be 1 part per million, and the free bromine 3 parts per million.
Know that water isn't the only danger
You may be so focused on water safety at the pool that you forget about another risk: the sun. It's important to protect your family against ultraviolet rays because they can lead to cancer. UV rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., but children should always be protected with sunscreen. That means buy swimsuits with SPF protection and make sure lotion has SPF 15 or greater.
Wear your sunscreen properly
People should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and then be proactive about reapplying about every two hours. Sun damage can wait to appear for up to 12 hours after exposure, so don't skip reapplying just because you don't think the kids look burned. A cloudy day at the pool also doesn't mean you can skip the sunscreen. Clouds don't block UV rays. Cloudy days are one of the most common times people forget to wear sunscreen.
More from The Active Times:
How to Keep Your Family Safe at the Beach This Summer
14 Things Lifeguards Wish You Knew About Water Safety