One of the joys of my summer is to watch my kids playing in the pool. They love the water, and just have so much fun when they’re playing some mysterious game that they have invented. But I want to keep them safe, so I’m pretty focused on providing them a safe pool environment. Here are some tips that I’ve learned:
Supervision must be all the time. I can’t pop in to the house to fix snacks when I’m on pool watch duty. I can’t text with my friends. My only job is to watch the kids. It doesn’t take long for a child to take in a gulp of water, panic and be in trouble, so I have to be watching at all times. When we have a barbeque and friends are over, my husband and I share the watching duties. If I’m on duty and have to go inside to do something, I make sure to signal that “you’re on watch” and see my husband acknowledge it before I leave.
Protect the pool area. We bought a home that had a lovely pool, and the first thing we did was install a fence around it. With kids, we didn’t want to leave the pool exposed where they might be tempted to wander out for a swim when we weren’t there. We put a gate with a locking mechanism on the pool, and an audible alarm. We did a lot of research, and here are some of the resources we found online with great information about pool safety:
Pool rules. We sat down with the kids before we all went out to the pool, and told them what we expected of them while at the pool. They would mind us, and follow certain rules. For instance, we went over “no running at the pool,” and explained that it wasn’t just us not letting them have fun, but that the surfaces around a pool are wet, and if they run, they could slip and fall. The rule was because we didn’t want them to hurt themselves. We typed up a list of the rules for our pool, and posted them prominently next to the back door.
Repeat the rules. Kids don’t always get it the first time you tell them something, so we occasionally repeat our rules. Even better – we say to one of the kids “tell me one of our pool rules.” It seems to help to have the rules reinforced by “pop quizzes.”
There must be a consequence. I saw a neighbor Mom fruitlessly yelling at her kids out at the pool one time, while they completely ignored her. I’ve always remembered that. When we had the talk with our kids, we told them that if they didn’t follow the guidelines we had set up, we would enforce a consequence. The first time one of the kids took off running to get to the diving board, I called him over and had him sit out for 10 minutes. Later that week he forgot and did it again, and I made him go inside the house for 20 minutes. When one of the kids is sitting inside the house, where they can hear everyone else having fun at the pool – that’s when the rules become more real.
Emergencies.We have a first aid kit readily accessible near the back door of the house. We have emergency numbers posted by the phone. My husband and I are CPR certified. We hope to not have an emergency, but want to be prepared just in case.
As I sit in the shade, watching my kids play, I smile and feel very satisfied at how much fun they’re having, and how I’ve provided a safe pool environment.
Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She is married to her best friend and lives in Pennsylvania. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking, biking and enjoy nature. She just started her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle.