May 18, 2016 Post By: Children's Health

3 Cool Rules for Being Safe in the Pool
A swimming pool is a great place for kids to cool off. It's also a great place for kids to get into trouble when no one's looking.

Whether you have a backyard pool or hot tub or take your child to the public pool, keep these three essential rules in mind:

1. Test and Teach

How well does your child swim?
Pool safety starts before your child ever gets into the water. Understanding your child’s skill level can help you make smart decisions about water safety. Enroll children in swimming lessons as young as 6 months, and assess your child’s swimming ability annually.

Actively supervise children at all times when they're near water and young kids should always swim with an adult. Our experts recommend you skip the standard arm floaties and instead use a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) for all children who do not know how to swim.

You can learn more about your child’s swimming ability by going to your local YMCA to receive a FREE swim assessment.

Teach your children to swim and make sure they know the dangers.
Even children that pass a swim assessment can benefit from additional swim instruction. Learning the rules of the water and how to be a strong swimmer is a great defense against drowning. In addition to assessments, the YMCA also offers swimming classes for all skill levels.

2. Watch and Guard

Active supervision around a pool is required, not just recommended.
Any time children are in the pool, designate an adult to be the Water Watcher. This dedicated observer must commit to actively supervising children in the water at all times; not texting, reading, socializing, drinking, etc. It’s a good idea to switch out Water Watchers from time to time to make sure the children stay safe in the pool.

And guarding the pool means more than just keeping an eye on swimming kids.
It is also important to make sure the pool is a safe place when no one is around:

  • Fences should be slatted and at least four feet tall. Even young kids can climb a chain-link fence. Gates should be self-closing and latching with latches out of reach of tiny hands.
  • Alarms can be installed on doors and gates leading to the pool and underwater pool alarms can warn you if something hits the water.
  • Always keep rescue equipment, like safety rings, rope and a first aid kit, poolside.
  • Cover pools and hot tubs when not in use. Use rigid covers that don’t collect standing water.
  • Remove ladders from above ground pools when not in use and store them out of reach.

3. Throw, Don’t Go

If you see a child struggling in the water at a pool or lake, NEVER jump in to rescue.
More often than not, the panicking victim will pull the would-be rescuer down with them. Instead, throw out a flotation device or use a pole or noodle to reach the drowning person.

For more information on how to keep your family safe in and around the pool, visit Know Before You Go or contact the Children’s Health Injury Prevention program at (214) 456-1870.