Tips and tricks for how to teach children safety and keep alert around the swimming pool

Isn’t it fun spending time with your kids at the family pool? Watching them grow more comfortable around the water is one of the joys of parenting. But safety is an important issue, because of the inherent risks involved when a child is in or near the water. As a parent, what can you do to help the kids avoid accidents when they’re around the pool? Here are some ideas:

Have pool rules. Let the kids know that there will be rules for proper behavior at the pool, and they are to follow them. Clearly state things like “no running” – which is one way kids can get hurt. Let the kids know why the rules are in place – trying to get to the diving board and running along a slippery concrete surface is a sure fire way to slip and cut a knee or elbow. That way the rule is not just a random penalty you’re trying to place on their fun.

Here are some great articles with more information on pool safety:
http://www.canadianfamily.ca/kids/baby/preventing-accidents-water/
http://www.swimmingpoolsafetynews.com/pool-safety/
http://blog.poolproducts.com/swimming-pool-safety-building-layers-of-protection/

Enforce consequences. We all know that kids will push boundaries. When rules are clearly stated, they will try to see how far they can push the limits, or try to find a way around the rules. Give them a warning first, by using your “Mom is serious” voice, and tell them that they just broke a pool rule. If it happens again, have the child sit out of the water for a few minutes. When another rule is broken, and the child is sent inside for a timeout, it will really impress upon them that the rules are to be followed. When they have to listen to the rest of the family outside having fun, it will make them really think about breaking the rules the next time.

No unsupervised swimming. Make it clear to the children that you don’t want for them to get hurt, and that’s why you only want them to swim when you are there. That way when the children are at the pool, there’s a parent right there to watch them. The designated parent should just be watching – no texting on the cell phone, or ducking into the house to fix snacks. This will lessen the chances of an accident, because with a parent watching, and rules which will be enforced, it just makes the pool a more safe environment.

Limit pool access. Install a fence around the pool at least 4 feet high, which has a gate with an alarm. That way an audible signal will sound if someone tries to get into the pool area when they are not supposed to. Add an alarm that will sound if something falls in the pool. If one of the barriers to the pool is the house itself, add alarms on doors with access. Don’t overlook any windows which open onto the pool area, and put an alarm on them as well. You’re introducing the children to the fun of the pool, and they might be tempted to return to that fun place, so make sure they can’t get there without you being with them.

Have the kids take swimming lessons. According to CDC.gov, unintentional drowning is a big problem in the United States. Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning substantially. There have been numerous reports of accidental drownings, especially with young children. Make swimming lessons a top priority.

If you study pool safety, and take measures to protect your children from accidents, then you can smile and watch as they splash, play “Marco Polo,” and have all the great fun a pool can provide.