During the heat of summer (and spring in some places), the pool is a great place to cool off. Splashing around is super fun, but it’s important to be alert to the possible dangers, too.
Stay Safe at the Pool this Summer
Sure, the pool is fun and exciting – a place to relax and kick back for a while.
As a former lifeguard, I am all too aware of just how quickly a fun day at the pool can turn into a nightmare. Before you head out for a day of splashing in the cool water, take a minute to review the basics of pool safety.
Yes, you’re 100% going to hear some or all of these tips throughout the summer at the pool. In my opinion, you can’t hear pool rules and advice to keep you safe often enough.
Keep Littles Close
My husband always rolls his eyes when I insist that my kids stay close at all times when we’re at a pool. But I follow this rule for a reason.
In the middle of splashing around in the pool, it’s incredibly easy to slip and fall or get very literally in over their heads. Stick close to your younger swimmers in the pool.
Babies, toddlers and even younger elementary aged kids need to be watched closely at pools. Yes, even in the kiddie pool or zero entry pools.
Hold babies in your arms or keep a hand on a secure floatation device. Try to stay within arms reach of preschoolers and toddlers, even if it means being constantly in and out of the pool with your child. Older kids who are not confident swimmers should always stay where they can comfortably touch, with their head above water.
Walk, Don’t Run
Sometimes, I might beat the on-duty lifeguards to the punch, shouting “Don’t run!” at kids who are moving a smidge too fast. Sorry, it’s a reflex! But I’ve also seen my fair share of icky pool deck injuries caused by a slip and fall due to running.
Pool decks are super slick and slippery. It’s easy to lose your balance or fall if you’re moving quickly.
Even with the non-slip mats along the edge of the water, the best way to stay safe on deck is to walk carefully. Go slow and stay well away from the edge at all times.
Kids are often the most frequent runners at the pool. They’re excited and want to start having fun, swimming around. Remind them to walk slowly and carefully at all times. If they do run, don’t hesitate to sit them out as a consequence.
Hold your younger children’s hands at all times on the pool deck. It’s incredibly easy for little ones to wander too close to the deep end or forget about walking slowly.
Know Your Limits
One of the scariest lifeguard trainings is a drowning video. On the screen, you see a little boy edge his way out to join his pals in the deep end. This child is not a deep water swimmer. Near his buddies, he releases from the wall, takes a few strokes and silently panics before slipping under the surface. The next movement is a lifeguard diving in to rescue him.
It all took under 30 seconds and his friends never even saw him moving toward them or drowning.
Whether you (or your child) are an experienced or beginner swimmer, it’s important to know your skill set and limits. It’s very tempting to head to the deep end with buddies or take a jump off the high board to be brave.
But swimming in deeper water than you’re used to can also be very risky. Bravery can quickly turn to panic as a swimmer tires, but is unable to reach safety or feels like they must save face in front of their friends.
Kids and adults, especially males, are at risk of pushing their limits at the pool.
Kids need to stay with a parent and/or in their designated areas. Pools typically require that minor children complete a swim assessment before moving into deeper water or jumping slides and diving boards. Color-coded bracelets or other markers are issued to swimmers to indicate where they are permitted to swim. Never swap bracelets with a more experienced swimmer.
For adults, there are not usually swim tests to access the deep end or the slides and diving boards. However, knowing your personal limits at the pool is extremely important.
Keep Parenting at the Pool
The pool is for relaxing, right? Not if you have kids with you! Anytime you are bringing children to the pool, it’s your primary job to keep them safe. Yes, even if they are super experienced swimmers who could one day make the Olympics.
The lifeguard staff is there in the event of a life-threatening emergency. They are not there to fetch your child toys, break up too rough play or constantly remind your child to walk.
There are maybe 12, at most, people on staff to protect several dozen swimmers. If the lifeguards are spending their time correcting minor unsafe behaviors, they might miss a person who is actually in danger.
At the pool, keep on parenting. Watch your child(ren), correct unsafe behavior and issue consequences as needed. Rushing to grab a kickboard could quickly turn into a head wound due to a slip and fall. Breath holding contests can turn into drownings. And a few too many open-mouth dunks underwater could lead to vomiting poolside.
All of these will ruin your relaxing day at the pool. Stay vigilant.
Adult Safely Solo
No kids for you? Perfect! Your day got easier by a good bit.
But it’s still important to stay safe at the pool. Remember to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum since it impairs judgement and could lead to unnecessary risk taking.
Taking breaks from the water to relax, eat, hydrate and reapply sunscreen is also crucial.
With a little extra caution and situational awareness, your relaxing pool day can be super fun!