It’s pool time again! This time of year is always exciting for kids who are eager to spend time in the water, but it’s also an important time to review pool safety rules for the entire family.
Drowning continues to be the second leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 18. Please take the time to read these points in their entirety and be diligent throughout the summer.
11 things to know and teach your kids about pool safety:
- Never leave children alone in or near a pool; this includes inflatable and other children’s pools. An adult should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision” for infants and toddlers. For older children, an adult should be paying constant attention and be free from distractions. The supervising adult must know how to swim. NOTE: Lifeguards are wonderful people to have around in case of an emergency, but they are watching a lot of children at once – always supervise your own children, or make sure a responsible adult has eyes on them at your request.
- Swimming lessons are recommended for all children. However, teaching your child how to swim DOES NOT guarantee that he or she is safe in water.
- Make sure there is a telephone by the pool in case of an emergency.
- Never leave a toy in or around a pool. It may tempt a child to jump in after it.
- If you use an inflatable or plastic pool, make sure you dump the water out of the pool after each use and turn the pool upside down when finished.
- If you have a pool at your home, install a fence at least four-feet high around all four sides of the pool. Pool covers and pool alarms are not a substitute for fencing. Make sure the gates in the fence self-close and self-latch at a height small children can’t reach.
- Know where rescue equipment, including a shepherd’s hook (a long pole with a hook on the end) and a life preserver, is for any pool in which your family swims.
- Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties” for young children. They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children a false sense of security.
- Teach children to never run, push or jump on others around water.
- Teach children to never swim alone and to never dive into water of an unknown depth.
- Counsel teenagers about the increased risk of drowning when alcohol is involved.
It’s important to know that children can drown in even the smallest body of water, including toilets, decorative fountains, portable pools, buckets and bath tubs. Children should be supervised by an adult if they are around any of these types of standing water.
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides an exhaustive list of pool safety guidelines as well as guidelines for boating and open water swimming (scroll to bottom of linked page). Please read more and be safe this summer!
Many thanks to Wendy Pomerantz, MD, MS, a physician in our emergency department, for her help compiling this information.