Most kids in America are just getting out of school and preparing for a long summer of going nowhere. Travel is still very iffy and social distancing policies are still in effect.
So, most of us will be staying home for the next month or two at a minimum.
That means there’s lots of time for children to encounter dangerous situations around the pool in your backyard. Even if your child is used to being around water, we need to talk about basic pool safety for juveniles. Don’t let this social isolation period contribute to higher risks around the poolside.
Here are some of the most vital tips for keeping children safe while they’re meandering around your pool area or playing close to the edge.
1. Install a Gate
There are many benefits of having a backyard swimming pool – convenience, fun, aesthetics, added home value, etc. However, having your own swimming pool also means that there’s a higher risk of water-related accidents taking place on your property.
According to the CDC, one in five drowning victims is a child that’s aged 14 years or younger. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional deaths for children ages one to four.
To seriously minimize the risk of child accidents around your pool, you can’t just practice close supervision or teach safe pool procedures. You also need a gate that protects children from the dangers of water.
Child-proof pool fences or gates play a huge role in protecting young ones in your family. You can select one with a difficult-to-open latch or even a pool alarm that instantly notifies you if someone has entered when they shouldn’t.
Some states even have laws that mandate pools to have some kind of barrier surrounding them to prevent tragic accidents. Check with your state to determine what the safety regulations are.
Whether you’re researching above-ground pools for sale or thinking about installing your own in-ground pool in the backyard, or you already have one, take pool barriers seriously. Look into setting up a gate or fence that will give you peace of mind while your children aren’t supervised.
Remember: drownings are more common during the summer than any other season, so now is the time to act and prevent accidents.
2. Start Swimming Lessons at a Young Age
The sooner your young child can swim to the side of the pool when they fall in, the easier you can sleep at night.
There are huge benefits to starting child swimming lessons at a young age. Although this isn’t a foolproof way to ensure your child’s safety – comfortability and skill in the water certainly give them a fighting chance if they were to fall in a pool.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s most beneficial for children to begin swim lessons around the age of one. Doing so can reduce the risk of drowning by up to 88 percent.
Wondering how you’ll start swim lessons when we’re stuck in quarantine?
Look into private instructors who will come to your house or teach virtual swim lessons you can take with your child. Anything is better than nothing when it comes to swimming education.
3. Always Have an Adult Stationed Nearby
This might sound like a no brainer, but it’s still worth stating. It doesn’t matter how strong of a swimmer your child is – if they’re not 14 years or older, you should have an adult nearby to provide aid.
Keep in mind that nearly 70 percent of childhood drownings actually happen when the kids aren’t swimming. So, if they’re just playing outside around an open pool or sitting on the side, they still need to be monitored to ensure total safety.
4. Teach Children Openly About the Dangers of Water
Although you certainly don’t want to scare your child away from using your pool, you also need to impress upon them the seriousness of pool safety. Whether you live in a home near the ocean, a lake house, or simply a home with a pool nearby, it’s vital that you have discussions with your kids early on.
Some pool safety topics to cover in your discussion include:
- Rules about entering the water without an adult
- Basic emergency plans and procedures
- How to handle falls and close calls
- Safety concerns like running and jumping around the water
- Real stories about water-related accidents
- When to ask for help or call for emergency aid
As we said, the goal isn’t to leave your child terrified of water. Rather, your goal should be to empower them with the knowledge to enjoy pools and bodies of water safely. The more they know at a young age, the more prepared they can be to protect themselves and others.
Summer is here, and that means most of us will be around water much more than usual – especially with quarantine canceling our vacations and outings to malls, movie theaters, restaurants, etc.
Now is the time to really think about how you and your family practice pool safety.
Do you have proper barriers surrounding the pool? Have you educated your child on swimming skills and the importance of accident prevention?
Don’t wait until it’s too late to take pool safety seriously. If you have children, from infancy to early teens, it’s your job to make sure water accident prevention is a top priority.
Noah Williams is the a manager for Family Leisure. He’s an expert in pools, spas, and outdoor living spaces.