There are few better ways to enjoy warm weather and sunshine with kids and family than out to a swimming pool. But even with all the great aspects of pool ownership, swimming pools can also be dangerous. According to the US CDC, fatal drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children age 1-14 behind motor vehicle crashes.
The things we teach to our children and how we teach it to them is an important part of keeping them safe. Be sure your children understand the importance of pool safety and break them of any dangerous habits early. Use this list as an instructional guide to help keep their poolside experiences enjoyable and safe for all.
- Over-reliance on flotation devices
There’s no getting around it: your kids need to learn how to swim. Watch for over-reliance on floatation devices, because it means that children will not be as confident and capable of swimming when they need to be.
Parent-child swim lessons can start when your baby is as young as six months old. These lessons develop your child’s comfort level in the water and teach them how to roll over and stay afloat on their back should she or she ever fall in accidentally. By the time they are three years old, they’ll be ready for more formal and structured lessons. During parent-child lessons, be sure to stay within arm’s length of your baby at all times.
This might seem like a no-brainer yet, but it’s worth repeating for good reason. The areas around a swimming pool are often wet and slippery. A fall can be catastrophic, especially if a non-swimmer falls into the pool without floaties or assistance. You likely can’t trust your child to abide by no-running signs, so sit down with them for a talk and make sure they understand the significance of this rule.
- Swimming alone or without supervision
Swimming alone is dangerous for children and adults. The immediate availability of help from a capable friend or lifeguard can make the difference between an injury and tragic fatal accident. Teach your children to watch out for their friends, and to always have someone watching for them so that this doesn’t happen. Temporary pool fences are important safety structures to keep children from swimming unsupervised.
Never leave your children without adult supervision, not even if they can swim, and not even for a moment. Emergencies can develop in the blink of an eye and a few seconds can make all the difference in saving a child’s life.
- Rough play and unauthorized diving
Nobody should ever push anyone into the pool. Period. Everyone’s skill and comfort level in the water is different, and pushing someone uncomfortable with swimming into the water can be deadly. Children may also hit their head on the edge of the pool if pushed. Injuries can leave a child impaired and unable to swim themselves to safety. Additionally, children should never dive into a pool not marked for diving. Hard contact with the bottom can cause serious injury, paralysis, or even death.
See this list of water activities for kids to keep them entertained in a safe way.
- Bringing foreign objects or electrical appliances in or near the pool
This should be another no-brainer, but water and electrical appliances don’t mix. Not only can the pool water damage electronic devices beyond repair, but electrical appliances can create a hazardous environment prime for electric shock. Keep charging cell phones, sound systems, or any other electrical device away from the pool, especially if they are plugged into an electrical outlet. Make sure that all the toys and tools you use with your pool are approved for use with pools. See this list of must-have accessories for examples.
- Bringing pets into the pool
We know that your pets are part of the family, and you want to include them in the poolside fun. However, dogs and cats can be dangerous to children once in the water. Dogs swimming toward children can scratch with their claws causing injury, and large dogs can force children under the water as they swim. Cats will want to sink their claws deep into the skin and hold on tightly.
Animals can also transport bacteria, insects, fecal matter, and hair that can contaminate the pool. Some evidence suggests that some animals are particularly sensitive to the chlorine in most pools.
If your child wants to swim with the family pet, this is best done in a kiddie pool or closely supervised by an adult. Always make sure that the animal enters the water willingly.
Teach Your Kids to Be Pool Safety Advocates
As a responsible parent or guardian, you do everything you can to keep your kids safe. Taking these steps to make sure your children know about the risks of dangerous poolside behavior is vitally important. Teach them to be responsible for not just themselves, but their siblings and friends as well to help keep them safe today and for the rest of their lives.
Author bio: Josh Fredman is a writer and content strategist specializing in topics important to homeowners, such as property renovations, interior design, and swimming pool care. He has worked with a variety of experts in these industries, including All Safe Pool.