Swimming Pool Safety for Kids

Enforcing swimming pool safety and water safety for toddlers is a challenge. Toddlers are fascinated by water. They want to examine it, play in it and discover everything that it holds. They also don't recognize the dangers that water holds.  Every year nearly 300 children under the age of 5 drown in a swimming pool, usually their own or that of a family member. One of the most frightening facts about this is that children often make no noise when they fall in, so you may not hear the splashing or screaming that you imagine would accompany such an accident. 

Supervision Is Key
If you have a pool or plan on being around a pool, you've undoubtedly considered pool safety. Constant supervision, both in and outside of the house is necessary to prevent water-related accidents. If your child is missing, check the pool first so that you have more time to respond to an emergency. 

Never leave your child unattended near water, even for a second. This includes the bathtub. Keep the toilet lid down and locked and don't leave standing water in buckets or troughs. Babies and toddlers can fall in head first and have difficulty getting out. A child can drown in as little as one inch of standing water.

When you're near a body of water, such as a pool, and there are a lot of people around, don't assume somebody else is watching the kids. Sometimes everybody thinks that and it turns out nobody is. You may want to designate a child supervisor whose role is to watch the kids in and around the pool. It is important that everyone who will be supervising your child understands these rules and follows them.

Teaching your kids not to enter water without your permission and supervision is an important part of pool safety.  Make sure your child understands the dangers of water and that they are not to go near it by themselves.

It is a good idea for parents and other caregivers to be certified in CPR and first-aid. You also may want to keep a phone by the pool with emergency numbers listed on it.

Using Barriers
As a precaution, you may consider putting up barriers to keep your children from pools or other bodies of water. Some states require fencing for ponds and pools; they're a good idea even when they're not the law. 

Keep entrances to the pool closed and locked, but be mindful that toddlers are very capable little beings. Figuring out how to undo a lock in seconds is one of their hidden talents. Doors leading to the pool should have two locks, with at least one out of the child's reach. A mesh fence, at least 48 inches high, should surround your pool. If the fence has slats, make sure they are no more than four inches apart so that your child cannot squeeze through. If your fence is chain link, the openings shouldn't be more than 1 ¾ inches to prevent kids from climbing. 

You may want to think about installing pool and door alarms, especially if the side of the house is one of the barriers to the pool. Make sure there is nothing near the fence surrounding the pool that could be used by your toddler to climb over. Pool safety covers are also available as another obstacle between your child and the water. Fences surrounding your property should be self-closing and self-locking. Never leave toys near or in the pool, where children will be tempted to go and get them.

Learning to Swim
Your child may be too young to be able to swim, but feeling comfortable in the water and knowing to hold his breath can be a vital skill. As they get older and their ability to swim progresses, teach your child how to jump in, turn around and swim to the edge of the pool and get to the surface for breaths. Look into swim classes at a nearby Y or other facility. Install stairs or a ladder near both ends of pools and teach your child how to reach them and use them to get out. 

Swimming Precautions
In addition to pool safety, it is important to follow some guidelines while swimming anywhere, including lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. This will teach proper water safety and make swimming more relaxing and enjoyable for everyone.

  • Teach kids to use the buddy system. Especially when kids are swimming in lakes and rivers, having a partner who is looking out for them can help prevent a dangerous situation.
  • When swimming in a river or lake, it is important to know how deep the water is. Kids should also find out if there are hidden rocks and learn how to tell the speed of currents. 
  • Don't let kids wade into deep water if their swimming abilities aren't very strong.
  • Kids should also be able to tread water and float as well as swim. 
  • Never dive in shallow water, especially head-first.
  • Don't let kids swim in the dark, especially in ponds, lakes and rivers. It can be easy to lose your direction and the way back to shore.

Cold water should be avoided, as it tires swimmers out quickly.

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