Your Pool Safety Checklist to Keep Kid Swimmers Safe

May is National Water Safety Month. Before summer heats things up, make sure you, the babes and the pool are ready for safe swimming.

Eyes on the Prize

A family pool provide countless hours of family fun. Sadly, children ages 1 to 4 have the highest rates of fatal drowning in swimming pools, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Supervising your lil’ swimmers while poolside is essential. We know you want to IG those adorable moments of splashing and laughing, but it before you know it, your eyes have on your phone longer than it has been watching the water. It’s so easy to lose track of time when your smartphone is diverting your attention away from the kiddos.

Button It Down Like Fort Knox

Younger children can be quite resourceful when it comes to the allure of a swimming pool. They’ll use patio furniture to climb over a fence, or sneak in when a parent isn’t watching. “There are multiple safety features available for parents to help ensure a safe and healthy summer,” says Jef Flournoy of America’s Swimming Pools. “Some features range from a safety fence that goes around your pool away from the edge, to pool alarms, to approved drain covers on any suction drain.”

Pool fencing will vary from state to state, but the Consumer Product and Safety Commission recommends a pool fence that’s at least 48″ inches high. If a vertical fence is used, the slats should be no more than 4 inches apart. Chain-link fences aren’t ideal because they are easy for kids to climb. The gate should be self-closing, self-latching and child-resistant. Install a pool cover with locks, and keep electrical items and pool chemicals safely locked up away from kids. Perimeter alarms, gate alarms, pressure sensitive alarms and even wearable alarms are something to consider based on your individual requirements and ages of children.

Dangerous Deep End and Drains

“The most dangerous area is always the deep end and more specifically the main drain. Although there should be safety measures in place, no person at any time should be touching or playing around any drains whether in a spa or a pool,” says Flournoy. The vacuum effect in pool drains may seem like a fun area for little hands to get “sucked in” but it is extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. The vacuum effect is powerful enough to pull down swimmers, especially children. Drain covers can become damaged or broken, creating dangerous and deadly suction. Check your drains on a regular basis and don’t assume your neighbors or even community pool drains are compliant or safe. Check them before you let your kid swim in the pool.

Swimming Lessons

Playing in the shallow end isn’t a guarantee your kid won’t have issues and struggle in the water or know how to react if they stumble and go head first into the water. It’s a good idea to sign your kiddos up for swimming lessons. “Formal survival/water safety classes should begin at around 3 to 6 months, when Mommy and Me-style classes are available,” says Rita Goldberg, former national swimmer in Britain and CEO/Founder of British Swim School.

Goldberg suggests these tips for finding the best class for your little swimmer:

Summer is only 3-4 months long in some regions – taking a hiatus from the pool for ¾ of the year can stunt a child’s skill development drastically. In order to give children a chance to master basic water safety and survival skills, year-round, ongoing swim lessons are a must!

  • The temperature of pool water should be between 85 and 87 degrees Fahrenheit for infants and young children.
  • To ensure your child receives the amount of attention they need to succeed, try to seek out swim programs that limit class size to 4 children per instructor.
  • Make sure the playtime in the pool is included so your child enjoys going!
  • Knowing backstroke won’t matter if your child doesn’t know what to do if they accidentally fall into the water. Making survival skills a priority – such as teaching the child how to instinctively turn over and float on their back should they fall into the water – is a critical first step in their swim journey.

Keep it Tidy

  • Remove toys from the pool when kids are finished swimming to remove the temptation to retrieve them unsupervised.
  • Remove any ladders from an above-ground pool when not in use.
  • Pick up toys and balls around the pool to prevent slipping and knocking noggins’ on concrete.
  • Empty small kiddie pools after each use
  • Keep patio furniture away from the fence to prevent “fence jumping” into the pool area.

Pool Rules

Before you open the pool for the season, discuss the pool rules. No-brainers like “never swim alone” or “no running on the pool deck” are obvious to parents, but maybe not to kids. It’s not enough to tell them not to do it. Explain why it’s an important rule not swim alone or dive into the shallow end.

Be a Lifesaver

Rescue equipment such as safety rings, rope, and shepherd’s hooks should be kept near the pool. Get certified in CPR. It can be life-saving when precious minutes count. If you have a sitter watching the kids, make sure they also know CPR. We’re not trying to scare you needlessly – after all, summer just wouldn't be the same without splishin’ and splashin’. You just have to take a few safety precautions before diving in!

How do you plan on keeping your kids safe in the pool this summer? Share your tips with us!

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