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Family Forum: Water Safety Tips

Pool rules to keep your swim time safe.

As parents there are times when you just hold your breath and pray. That's especially true around summertime. Nothing is more heartbreaking than hearing about a child who drowned in a pool. Accidents can happen anywhere, but even more so at pools, where anyone, particularly children 5 and under can be at risk. 

Whether a kiddie or an Olympic sized pool, beach or bay, safety precautions are vital. Unfortunately, there are too many ways for a person to drown or become seriously injured in and around the water.  While we want our kids to develop a comfort level by the water, they must also have an awareness that a pool is not just for fun.

My son is just learning how to swim and was having a jolly time jumping off a raft into the pool (first mistake).  On one attempt his foot got stuck so his face was submerged in water. Luckily, I was within two arms lengths away, but even if your child has a million swim hours under their life vest, you always need to be on guard.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the federal agency responsible for enforcing the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool And Spa Safety Act and sets safety guidelines for public pools and for pool and spa products.

Drawing from the CPSC's safety guidelines, here are some basic pool rules to keep summertime fun and emergency free.

Safety Rules: Review the pool rules with your family. If  hosting a pool party, review the pool rules with guests. Safety always comes first.

Never Alone: Your child should not be unattended when by the water. Young or old, someone should know you are in the pool or at the beach. Note where the lifeguards are and make eye contact with them. Your children should go to them if lost and stop and listen if their whistle blows.

Pool Watcher: On pool play-dates, designate an adult lifeguard so there’s someone always keeping an eye on the swimmers.

No Running: Walk, don't run. It could be slippery and too many injuries occur by tripping and falling into the pool.

Rest: When tired, take a rest. Lethargic swimmers can easily drown. Look for weary children and give them a hand.

Gang Way: The water should be clear of objects and people – by at least two full body lengths – before jumping,  diving or swimming. When at the ocean or bay, avoid rocks and any roped-off areas and follow buoys to be sure you are within the permitted swimming areas.

Eyes Open: Always pay attention. You can have every safety procedures posted all over your house, but accidents happen in a split second. Never let your guard down. When at the ocean, never turn your back on the ocean as the waves and current can creep up and wash in when least expected. Keep an eye on your fellow swimmers.

Avoid Entrapments And Drains: Always check drain covers to be sure they are VGB-compliant. Drains and suction openings can trap hair, limbs, body parts, clothing and accessories including jewelry and are a leading factor in at home drownings.

Life Savers: Learn CPR and make sure your child has appropriate safety gear for his or her swim level, including a life vest and floatation devices. Keep a floaty by your pool.

Install Alarms And Fences: Install an alarm and a lockable fence around your pool.

Pool And Hot Tub Checks: If your child is missing or you lose sight, check your pool or hot tub first.

Compliancy: Retain a licensed professional to ensure your pool and spas are in compliance.

Phone: Keep a phone nearby with emergency numbers on speed dial.

Share your pool safety tips below.

Check These Additional Resources: CSPCDownload Safety SheetsDrain EntrapmentsPool AlarmsVirginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety ActAssociation of Pool and Spa Professionals

Cynthia Litman June 29, 2011 at 05:12 PM
My family loves having fun in the sun and practicing water safety is a necessity, much like sunscreen! What are your family's POOL RULES??
Alexandra Zendrian June 29, 2011 at 05:17 PM
I had never thought of keeping the phone nearby. That's a very good idea. I can only imagine that if you follow all the other rules but don't have a phone or some other way to get help quickly just in case that it would make a big difference.
Adina Genn (Editor) June 29, 2011 at 05:18 PM
Never swim alone. Also it's good to know ahead of time the water depth if possible. Best not to have any surprises!
Cynthia Litman June 29, 2011 at 05:23 PM
so key!! particularly gauge it before jumping or diving in!!
Cynthia Litman June 29, 2011 at 05:28 PM
With kiddie pools, be sure to spill them out after you are done with your pool time. Pools of any size are a great temptation for youngsters.
Adina Genn (Editor) June 29, 2011 at 05:28 PM
true...also mosquitos!
Cynthia Litman June 29, 2011 at 05:31 PM
excellent point!!
Cynthia Litman June 29, 2011 at 05:33 PM
I took the liberty in assuming families know the no swimming after you eat rule... they say 30 minutes but I say, depends on what you ate!!
Cindy Springsteen June 29, 2011 at 05:36 PM
Summer is so much fun, but the pools, beaches and all do scare me. It is so important to know and follow all the rules. Everyone wants to have fun and no one wants to see anyone get hurt.
Cynthia Litman June 29, 2011 at 05:37 PM
Also assess each family's health condition before entering the water and note any open sores, wounds or other health condition (runny nose, fever, viruses)... that may spread in the water, hurt your child or put others at risk. Pools can act like petri dishes... My kid's pediatrican not so jokingly prefers my kids to swim in a toilet than in a public kiddie pool... just saying...
Cindy Springsteen June 29, 2011 at 05:40 PM
I have to agree 100% with you on that one Cynthia, some public pools can be pretty gross if you have parents that allow sick children or those swim diapers that leak, YUK! I remember being at a pool one time and it closing for health reasons (someone went in pool) and saying to my kids no amount of chlorine is letting me let you back in there.
Cynthia Litman June 29, 2011 at 05:41 PM
We kind of take phones for granted these days as just a social item but in the event of an emergency every precious second counts!! Just be sure not to drop your phone in the water (unless its waterproof) and dry your hands before calling!!
Cynthia Litman June 29, 2011 at 05:43 PM
I have yet to learn of a swim diaper that doesn't leak!! Public kiddie pools fall in the category of places where you just close your eyes, pray and hope for the best!! We humans are germy creatures.
Cynthia Litman June 29, 2011 at 05:45 PM
On that note, keep electronics away from the water (ANY water - tub, spa, pool).... to avoid electrocution. ALSO - get out of the water if there's LIGHTNING!!!
Cynthia Litman June 29, 2011 at 05:49 PM
I was shocked to learn that pool/hottub drains are a leading cause of child drownings because kids can get stuck in them. The story of Virginia Graemme Baker is particularly tragic, she went off by herself into her parent's hot tub and got stuck by the suction of the drain and it took two grown men to pull her out.. but it was too late... so sad, and senseless... but a really strong lesson for other families.
will September 25, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Ok, so im the only guy here! Follow swimcoachmiami on twitter. They post advise on just about everything water safety and CPR related you would need. They are a fast growing water safety company out of Miami. I think their website is swimfor.me.

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