Pool safety is important, obviously. Drowning can happen to anyone, but children are especially vulnerable to drowning. According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4. There is no single way to keep everyone safe at the pool, and it is impossible to reduce drowning risk to zero. However, there are a lot of actions you can take to reduce risk.
Here are 10 pool safety tips:
1. Always have a Water Watcher when kids are in the water
We have a whole post dedicated to Water Watchers, so I will be brief here.
There should always be one capable adult that is designated to watch the pool whenever the kids are swimming. A capable adult should know how to swim. Ideally, they also know CPR in case of an emergency. It’s as simple as that!
2. Have a four-sided fence around the pool
According to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA), nearly 70% of childhood drownings happen when it wasn’t time to swim. This means that the kids are getting to the pool when no one is watching. When no one is there to help, kids are far more likely to drown.
Many residential codes require a fence that prevents someone from coming into the yard to swim, but these fences may not cut off access from the house. The safest option is to get a pool fence that prevents a child from getting directly from the house to the pool.
Take a look at the picture at the top of the screen for an example. As you can see, a small child cannot get into the pool without a taller person opening the door for them.
Mesh fencing isn’t the safest option, but they do a great job. There are sturdier fences made out of plastic, metal, and wood that are sturdier and taller. Nonetheless, a fence around the pool is a must.
This is probably the most effective way to prevent drowning. Since a vast majority of childhood drownings happen during non-swim times, a fence around the pool is very effective at reducing the risk of drowning.
3. Have alarms that are always activated on exit doors
Another simple measure is to put door alarms on exit doors. Anytime the door opens, the alarm will sound, notifying you that someone has opened the door.
Yes, they are annoying. An alarm going off every time someone exits is not pleasant. But is worth the annoyance! It could easily notify you that a young child is trying to get to the pool.
If you leave them off, you have increased the likelihood that a child will get to the pool without you noticing. Kids are sneaky and curious, which is not a great combination with potentially life-threating consequences.
If you’ve got them, keep them on! If you don’t, put them on and keep them on!
4. Keep exit doors locked and door knobs “child-proofed”
Keeping doors locked doesn’t take a lot of effort. It can be easy to forget, but locking outward facing doors is an important habit if you have a pool in your back yard. If you child is too young to unlock a door, then they can’t get outside to the pool. Even if you child can unlock a door, that could save you a few precious seconds that could save your child’s life.
There are door knob covers for every type of door. Covers for door knobs are another easy and simple way to prevent access to the pool. It is also one and done and requires no habit formation. A win-win for everyone!
5. Utilize pool safety alarms
Admittedly, I have yet to hear anyone say positive things about pool alarms. A typical pool alarm is set on the side of the pool with part of it underwater when the pool is not in use. If the pool alarm detects motion, it triggers an alarm to let you know someone or something caused the water to move.
The concept is awesome! However, most families I have spoken with have found that the wind easily triggers the alarm. This makes for a lot of loud alarm sounds that are unnecessary. Usually, these families end up putting the pool alarm away and never using it again.
If you have found a good one, let us know!
6. Wear flotation devices when appropriate
Floatation devices are a must for natural bodies of water. Lakes, rivers, oceans, and the like have hazards that you often can’t see that are life-threatening. In addition to unseen hazards, you often can’t see someone who has gone underwater, which makes rescuing someone nearly impossible.
We recommend a regular Coast Guard Approved life jacket when in natural bodies of water. We also recommend life jackets when you cannot practice touch-supervision in the pool. We have an entire article about Puddle Jumpers that you can check out with more details on our opinion of Puddle Jumpers and using flotation devices in pool. Check it out!
7. Use touch supervision for non-swimmers
Touch supervision is simply being within arms reach of a child while in the pool. This is so important when kids are not using flotation devices in the pool. When you are that close to a child, you can easily intervene if needed.
If your child can pass our deep end swim test, then we say touch supervision is unnecessary. Our swim test consists of jumping in the pool, a 20 yard swim, 60 seconds of treading water, 60 seconds of back float, a 5 yard swim to the wall, and exiting the water. Constant supervision is always necessary, but being within arms reach is not vital for kids that can complete the deep end swim test.
Having multiple children complicates using touch supervision. What should you do if you have 3 kids that all require touch supervision?
I would first try to go to the pool with multiple adults. If you can’t do that, then put your kids in a life jacket. If your older kids can stand up in the shallow end, then you could keep them out of a life jacket and put more focus on your younger children. However, remaining close is still important. It is helpful to swim where there is a life guard to reduce the risk of drowning, so you can always go to a public pool where lifeguards are normally required.
8. Take swim lessons with water safety curriculum
Of course, we offer swim lessons, so you can check that out!
Swim lessons are important, but they are not the most important on this list. Nonetheless, the NDPA states that swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning for kids age 1-4 by 88%. That is a massive decrease!
It is vital that you take swim lessons somewhere that not only teaches children to swim, but also includes a water safety component in their curriculum.
We utilize the family oriented model to involve the whole family in water safety. We have role plays during lessons that involve the parents. We also teach kids what to do if they see someone in the pool that needs help as well as a healthy respect for the water. These pool safety skills, and the many more we teach, could save someone’s life.
We also know providing swim lessons allows us to build relationships with families so we can share water safety with them. If you are reading this article, you are benefiting from all the families who have taken lessons with us. So thank you to all we have been able to serve!
9. Learn CPR for emergencies
When the worst happens, it is important to know what to do. Even if you follow all the pool safety tips mentioned in this article, it is important to know how to perform CPR and rescue a child in the event of a drowning incident.
The American Red Cross has trainings all the time so you can be prepared in an emergency. Knowing CPR is a must if you have a pool at your home.
10. Have Pool Safety Rules
Teaching kids the rules at the pool can keep kids from doing things that put them at risk. We teach kids some pool rules during lessons, such as asking a grown up to get in the pool, that decrease the likelihood of a child drowning.
Here are some rules to consider for your pool:
- Always ask a grown up before you swim
- Always walk around the pool
- Tell a grown-up right away if you see someone that needs help in the pool
- Never hold someone underwater
- Never push people into the pool
- Never take off someone’s life jacket
- Never get in the pool without a grown up
Let’s change the statistics with pool safety!
If we do the things on this list, we can reduce the chance of drownings. Our vision is “A Drowning Free Knoxville”. This is another contribution from All Knox Swim that we hope and pray will help fulfill our vision. Share this article with your friends and family to help prevent drownings. If you have questions, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.