As we round the corner into the warmest months of the year, swimming is on the top of the list for many children and families. However, although it’s a fun and refreshing activity, swimming can result in significant injuries for children—and even teens and adults—if safety isn’t a high priority.
Believe it or not, many pool drownings occur when children are merely near a pool, while nobody is even swimming. Not to mention, drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1-4 and 10-14. And, more than 3,600 injuries are caused from drowning-related incidents each year. But, there are actions you can take to prevent accidents from becoming fatal, and some that may even avoid potential swimming pool mishaps altogether.
That said, before your kids strap on their trusty goggles and head out to the pool for the afternoon, it’s important to know and understand swimming pool safety to ensure their protection during what seems like a harmless pastime.
1. Teach Children How to Swim
One of the most beneficial safety precautions one can take as a parent is teaching your children how to swim. Many guidelines suggest teaching your child to swim when they are as young as four years old. However, others have found that once they can properly hold their head up unassisted, babies can begin swim lessons, typically around six months to a year old.
Getting kids into the water helps keep them prepared and unafraid if anything were to happen unexpectedly. Protecting your child by teaching them to swim can be essential in a life-or-death situation and act as the building block for future aquatic skills. And the sooner they learn, the better.
2. Be Aware of Drain Danger
Pool drain safety is vital for children, especially at a young age. Most swimming pools employ a suction-based drain system to filter out dirt and keep the pool clean. However, the suction can easily put children at risk for drowning. Suction can act as a trap for a small child and can quickly bring them underwater, where they’re unable to free themselves. While pool drain incidents are rarer than others, it is essential to know and recognize that they can happen.
3. Learn CPR for Adults and Children
If a pool-related incident occurs--particularly in a pool that is not supervised by a lifeguard--it’s crucial to know CPR. Children can drown in a matter of one to two minutes, meaning your knowledge of CPR can be imperative while waiting for EMTs or medical personnel to take over. And, children are not the only ones susceptible to drowning. Many adults are also at risk, so it’s beneficial to know the proper CPR techniques to save any life in an emergency.
4. Install Child Safety Lock
If you have a private pool, it’s also beneficial to add layers of safety between your children and the water. Children can slip away and out the door quickly and quietly. That said, a solid exterior door lock is extremely valuable in plenty of circumstances, especially when you have a pool in the backyard.
Not only can an exterior door lock help, but ensuring that you have a sturdy and protective gate can also be a lifesaver. However, it’s only as useful as the lock that keeps it shut. The device should be tall enough so your child can’t reach it, while you can also invest in locks that are utilized with a key and even equipped with a sound alarm.
5. Install an Underwater Alarm
Regardless of the safety measures you take to keep your child from ever reaching the pool without your supervision, some kids are extra sneaky. And, when it comes to water incidents, every second counts. That said, an underwater alarm will detect water movement and alert you when your child is in danger. Not to mention, a pool alarm can also help save your pets from accidental drownings as well.
6. Install the Pool Cover
Pool covers have plenty more advantages than keeping debris out of the water. Investing in a quality safety cover can be one of the best ways to protect your children from falling into the water while the pool isn’t in use. There are hundreds of options on the market. However, some of the best choices are mesh pin-down safety covers, solid pin-down safety covers, and automatic pool covers. Regardless, ensure that you install a pool cover that is safety certified to get the most protection.
7. Install a Swimming Pool Safety Net
If a pool cover is out of the question, your next best choice is to install a swimming pool safety net. Safety nets cover the pool's surface and protect children and even pets from falling into the water. A swimming pool safety net is a low-cost solution to saving your children’s lives.
8. Install a Pool Fence or Protective Fence
Installing a protective pool fence around your pool can add yet another protective layer between the water and your kids and is one of the most beneficial methods for preventing water-related and drowning incidents. In more than 75 percent of drowning cases, the child was seen—nowhere near the water—less than five minutes before being found in a pool. A fence can be the one additional safety precaution that keeps your child from facing tragedy.
9. Use Swimming Aid Tools
Teaching your child to swim without assistance is a process. That said, they aren’t going to be professional swimmers after one lesson. Swimming aid tools give your child something to lean on when they need a break. Beneficial swimming aids include life jackets, water wings, pool noodles, kickboards, inflatable tubes and tube vests, and pool floats. Keeping plenty of aids handy can help your child in moments of potential distress in the water.
10. Pay Close and Constant Attention While Your Children are Swimming
Most drownings occur when children go unsupervised. Even simply heading inside to grab a drink or use the bathroom leaves enough time for a child to drown accidentally. Whether your child is in your backyard or community swimming pool, they must be under constant watch by you or another adult. Again, it only takes a minute, and if you’re always paying attention, you’ll be able to spot a problem when one arises.