Jun 23, 2014
Post By: Children's Health
Editor's Note: This article has been updated from its original version published in June 2014.
Sprinklers and ice pops are always popular, but the No. 1 request, hands down, is “can we go to the pool?” Which is usually repeated as a chant, in unison, until my wife and I agree to grab the towels and the sunscreen.
Whether you’re headed to the local pool or planning a backyard swim party of your own, here are six pool safety rules you should follow from our experts in The Safety Source-Injury Prevention Service at Children's Health℠.
1. Know how well your child can swim
According to Jamie Pelletier, Injury Prevention Program Coordinator at Children’s, pool safety starts before your kids even get into the water.
“Parents should get their child’s swimming assessed before they get into the water,” Jamie says. “That way parents can feel confident knowing whether or not they need to be in the water with their child or if they’re skilled enough to swim on their own.”
Visit the Know Before You Go site to request a free swim assessment from the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas.
2. Active supervision is required, not just recommended
Any time children are in the pool, you must designate an adult to be the Water Watcher. The Water Watcher who is assigned must commit to 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.
3. Skip the arm floaties, choose Coast Guard approved PFDs
If your little one still needs a little help in the pool, our experts recommend you skip the standard arm floaties in favor of a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) instead.
If a life jacket is too large or difficult for your little one, my wife and I got a Puddle Jumper for our daughter. It’s Coast Guard approved and works similarly to the standard arm floaties but with a little extra safety support.
4. No horseplay around the pool
When I was a kid, I used to get a kick out of the big warning signs displayed around the pool that said “no horseplay.” I always pictured a group of real horses wearing inner tubes and goggles running around the pool.
Now that I’m older (but maybe not a whole lot more mature), I agree with Jamie who reminds everyone that surfaces around pools are usually very slippery when wet, so running, jumping and other unsafe behavior should not be allowed.
5. Throw, don’t go
If a child is struggling in the pool, reach out to them with a pool noodle or toss them a flotation device. If you jump in to try to save them, you could be pulled under, too. This is one of the three essential rules of water safety.
6. Slather on the sunscreen
Before heading out to the pool, we always cover our girls with a waterproof sunscreen made for children with an SPF of at least 30 and protection against both UVA and UVB rays. There are also special protective shirts that can be worn in the water that protect against the sun.
Home Pool Safety Tips
Install a fence at least four feet high that completely surrounds the pool with gates that self-latch.
Always keep rescue equipment, like safety rings, rope and a first aid kit, poolside.
Learn C-P-R in case of an emergency.
Read and print out our handy How to Be Safe in Water sheets in English or Spanish.
What other pool safety rules do you have to share? Leave us a comment to tell us how you keep your family safe at the pool.
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