Safety First: Pool Rules for Parents

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Pool season is here. Dips in cool pools are a summer rite of passage for all ages, but pools can be a dangerous playground. At the start of pool season, there were three reports of near drowings across the Carolinas. I also watched my 4-year-old panic when he got just a bit out of his comfort zone and couldn’t touch. Though he’s taken swim lessons for almost two years, and knows how to float and get horizontal in the pool, he couldn’t do it. The fear in his eyes is something I’ll never forget, and it happened so fast. Upsetting as it was, I was there to get him, and I don’t like to think of any other outcome.

With that, I give you eight ways to keep your child safe at the pool (or any body of water for that matter) from Kelly Gaines, owner of Charlotte Aquatics and board member of SafeKids CharMeck.

1. Never leave a child unattended in a pool, hot tub, or bathtub even for moment. Adult supervision is essential.
2. Always designate a responsible adult to serve as the “water watcher” – a supervisor whose sole responsibility is to constantly observe children in or near the water.
• Water Watcher should maintain continuous visual and auditory contact with children in or near the water.
• Water Watcher should not engage in distracting behaviors such as talking on the phone, preparing a meal or reading.
• Water Watcher should keep children who cannot swim within arm’s reach at all times.
3. Have a phone by the pool to dial 911 in an emergency.
4. Keep rescue equipment by the pool.
5. Enclose the pool completely with a barrier. Fences should be at least five feet high and have self latching, self-closing gates. Layers of protection are important, so consider using door and pool alarms and pool safety covers.
6. Parents and caregivers should learn infant and child CPR.
7. Educate children about the rules of water safety.
8. Enroll your children in a water safety or learn to swim program. It has been shown that children who have swim lessons have an 88 percent less chance of drowning.

All of these tips can really be combined into what I like to call the ABCs of water safety. A=adult supervision is always needed. B=Barriers. Make sure you have multiple layers of protection around your pool or spa. C=Classes. Enroll your child in swim lessons and make sure as an adult you know CPR. And always remember sunscreen! Slather it on before you ever head outside. Bring a hat and sunglasses, and pack lots of cold water for a fun day poolside.