Hot days are best spent poolside. Having a pool at your home is convenient and fun for the whole family, but it is also full of safety hazards. The CDC reports on average 3,536 people die annually from drownings.
To prevent a tragedy happening at your home, it is important to take a few precautions.
1. Install barriers to prevent children from entering the pool without supervision
The very first thing you should construct after installing a pool is a safety gate, fence or other mechanism designed to keep kids out when parents are not around.
Enclose the entire pool in a tall fence, and use a self-latching, self-closing gate at the entrance of the deck. If an above-ground pool is not in use, remove all of the ladders to make entry impossible for young children.
During the off season, consider installing a safety cover rather than just a winter cover.
What’s the difference? A safety cover is designed to prevent accidental drownings because it can support the weight if someone falls onto the cover. A winter cover can only help with keeping dirt and debris out of the water during the cooler months of the year.
2. Keep young children at an arm's reach at all times.
When you do make it out to swim with family and friends, you must keep children close by at all times. In just a moment’s notice, they can trip into the water or start choking while they are swimming. They are all novices, and even the best young swimmer can find themselves panicking if something goes wrong.
3. Become familiar with the signs of drowning
Drowning isn’t always obvious. Movies make downing this dramatic event, but in real life, it isn’t. Someone who is drowning can’t breathe, which means they can’t call for help, wave their arms or even kick.
Instead of looking for a child who seems to be in distress, you need to keep a close lookout for a child whose mouth is bobbing just above and below the surface, their arms may be tightly held at their sides as they try to reach for more oxygen and a glassy blank stare.
If someone seems oddly catatonic, call out and ask if they’re okay. If they answer you, then they are probably just fine. If they just stare at you, then you have to act quickly to help them to safety.
4. Learn CPR
It’s never a bad idea to learn CPR. Accidents happen, and when seconds count, you want someone who can safely do chest compressions until emergency services arrive.
Local community colleges may offer CPR classes for a minimal fee, or you can attend a class with the American Red Cross. The certification usually lasts about three years until you need to retake a course.
You will learn about laws, best practices and how to do CPR on infants, children and adults.
5. Teach children and other members of the household how to respond to aquatic emergencies
Make sure younger children know how to respond and ask for help if they find themselves struggling in the water. Teach teenagers and other family members the appropriate way to respond to a distressed swimmer.
Sometimes, a drowning victim may pull their rescuer under water with them. It is important to know how to use safety floatation devices and the proper way to remove the drowning victim from the water.
There are also different techniques needed for individuals with a head or neck injury after having a bad dive. If everyone practices how to respond, then your family members may be able to prevent a tragedy.
6. Establish rules (e.g. no diving or don’t swim alone).
No one can save you if you’re swimming alone. Make it a rule to always bring a buddy if one of your teenagers or visitors wants to jump in the pool. Even if the partner isn’t planning on jumping in to swim, it could be a life saving-decision to sit on the deck or near the water while others are splashing around.
Similarly, don’t allow diving if the pool is too shallow. Hitting the bottom of the pool head on will cause serious injuries. Other rules, like no glass bottles or no running, will make sure your kids won’t take any unnecessary risks near the water.
Determine your rules, write them down, print them on a waterproof material and post them just like a public pool. Create real consequences for the rule breakers to make sure everyone knows you mean business when it comes to safety.
7. Never use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision
Don’t think just because a child has a safe life jacket on that they are really safe from drowning. Accidents happen even with all the right safety precautions. Don’t give yourself a false sense of security by using floatation devices as an excuse to stop being so vigilant.
8. Maintain the right chemical balance
Jumping in the pool after a shock treatment or if there is just simply too many chemicals can cause serious skin rashes, burning eyes and other problems. If the chemicals are not right, don’t let anyone swim until they are fixed. It may seem fine enough, but you don’t want anyone suffering the side effects of too much chlorine.
9. Keep the water clear and clean
Just like you need to make sure the chemicals are right, you also don’t want to let the water get dirty and cloudy. If you can’t see the bottom, it is a huge safety hazard. It might be harder for you to notice a distressed swimmer or save them if they are at the bottom of the pool.
If the pool is dirty, use a shock treatment to clean it up (but remember number 8! You don’t want anyone in a pool with a high concentration of chemicals). Otherwise, just put off swimming for a couple days until everything clears up.
10. Install a door chime so parents will know if someone is leaving (or entering) the house.
The only way someone can make it to the pool is if they go outside. There are plenty of good reasons to install a door chime to alert you of anyone entering or exiting your home, but one reason could be knowing if any kids start heading toward the pool without permission.
The alert could stop someone from getting in the water without you knowing in advance.
Water safety is simple. Communicate with everyone your expectations for proper behavior in or near the pool. Keep an eye out for distressed swimmers and know how to react appropriately if an emergency occurs.
Do you need chemical strips, shock treatment or safety gates and ladders? At Thompson Pool and Patio we can help you make your outdoor swimming area safe for all your family members, pets and guests. Call us at 405.364.1912!