The pool is one of the go-to places for kids to have summer fun in the sun. But it can also be one of the most dangerous places. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) an average of 356 children ages 0-14 die from drownings annually. To keep your child safe, here are some water safety reminders to keep top of mind when your child is playing in the pool.
Never Leave a Child Unattended Near Water
Never leave a child unattended in or near water for any reason: Healthline reports that it takes less than two minutes for a child to drown. Children ages 5 to 14 are at a higher risk of drowning, but children younger than 5 have a greater risk.
For your child’s safety, always appoint an adult who’s free from distractions to keep a close eye on your child. Experts recommend that the adult should be within arm’s reach to rescue the child. Even if a lifeguard is on duty, make sure someone is keeping an eye on your child specifically, because the lifeguard must survey the entire body of water.
Make Sure Your Pool Has Appropriate Drain Covers and Barriers
Whether you’re visiting a community pool or the one in your backyard, make sure you’re aware of the latest pool requirements before letting your kids get in. Pool requirements vary by state and city, so be especially careful if you’re having pool fun while on vacation.
Every pool should have appropriate covers for drains, which otherwise may seem like fun suctions for kids to play with. But it’s important to teach them to never play with them because they can lead to entrapment and injuries. Drain covers should follow guidelines set by the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, ensuring nationwide pool and spa safety equipment to prevent injuries and deaths.
Most importantly, when you’re not in the pool, make sure it’s covered and free from toys to disincentivize your child from going near the pool for them. Add appropriate barriers, fences and alarms to keep your little ones from going in the pool without your knowledge.
Even if you learned CPR before, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on the basics for your child’s safety. Check with the American Red Cross to find an expert-led child and baby CPR class in your area or online. It’s also a great time to teach your child CPR, too. In the event of drowning or a water emergency call 911 and immediately begin CPR as a rescue method.
Enroll Your Child in Swim Classes
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children begin learning at the age of 1 to reduce their risk of drowning. Keep in mind that swimming classes cannot prevent babies and children from drowning. The AAP shared that swimming classes reduce drowning deaths in children by 88%. It is suggested that parents should decide when their children are ready for swimming lessons based on their exposure to water and how ready they think their child is.
The American Red Cross has a list of facilities and organizations that host child swimming and water safety classes and most are free of charge. But remember, even if your child knows how to swim, they should never be left unattended in the pool.
Keep Rescue Equipment Handy
Any time your child is playing in the pool or water, safety equipment should always be handy. Your child should always wear an adjustable U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when they’re in or near water. You’ll also want to keep a lifebuoy handy as a life preserver as another form of rescuing. Lifebuoys are designed to be thrown for the child or person to latch onto in the water. The person on land will pull the floating lifebuoy and person to safety.
You may decide to add more safety and rescue equipment to your pool area, but remember that water toys should never be a substitute for water rescue and safety equipment.
Other Water Safety Reminders for Kids
- Never let your child chew or eat while swimming or playing in water as this could lead to choking.
- Teach children not to engage in horseplay in the water. They should never push others into water and should always be aware of how shallow the water is before diving or jumping in themselves.
- Make sure children know the difference between open bodies of water and enclosed pools. Currents and waves from oceans and lakes are much more unpredictable and shallow.
- When children are swimming in open bodies of water, teach them to never swim outside of safe zones designated by lifeguards. An adult should also be close by to supervise.
Parent Checklist for Kids Pool Safety
We know there’s a lot to remember about pool and water safety when it comes to kids. Here’s a quick checklist to reference before your child gets in the pool.
- Make sure your child has a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket
- Pay close attention to your child when they’re in the water and stay within arms’ reach
- Ensure safety equipment handy and working properly
- Make sure the pool has appropriate barriers, alarms and drain covers before they get in
- Teach your child how to swim as early as you believe they’re ready
- Practice CPR regularly