Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, June 24, 2013

3 Ways To Protect Your Kids At The Pool This Summer

I want the swimming pool to be a source of fun and enjoyment for my kids. But I also want to keep them safe. Since water has inherent dangers, child safety around the water requires some thought and effort. As I have monitored our family pool, I have realized there are a number of important things to address. Here are 3 items at the top of my list for keeping my kids safe:

1) Be watching – ALL the time. 

My husband Ed and I usually swap out the duty for watching the kids. We agreed long ago that if I am the watcher, it means that I don’t take my eyes off the kids. This means that when I watch, I’m not texting a friend, I don’t go into the house to fix a sandwich, I don’t let myself get distracted. It doesn’t take very long for something bad to happen, and a moment’s inattention could be tragic. I also serve the lifeguard role – it is my job to remind the boys “No running at the pool,” and mean it. I enforce consequences for violating the rules. The first time I sent one of our sons inside the house because he just wouldn’t stop running, it really got the attention of my kids. They knew I meant it, and I’m sure sitting inside listening to their brothers and friends having a happy time splashing around the pool made the lesson really sink in. In addition, the watcher has a phone with them at all times, in case of emergencies, with our emergency numbers on speed dial. We don’t take this job lightly.

2) Be current on water safety skills. 

It was very important to Ed and I to stay current on our own water and safety skills. He swam competitively in college, and I’m a good swimmer, so if there is an emergency, we aren’t hesitant to jump in the pool if needed. We don’t have any fears around being in the water which would get in the way. But what to do if something happens? Since we have the phone readily available, the first thing to do is call emergency personnel. But an emergency may needed immediate attention, and the time waiting for someone to arrive may be too long. That’s why my husband and I keep up with our emergency training. We took classes to learn how to perform CPR on both adults and children. We took a lifesaving class, to learn the right ways to handle that kind of emergency. We renew those certifications when it’s time, with a refresher course. Our belief is that a family swimming pool has responsibilities attached to it, and we make sure we take those duties seriously.

3) Multiple alarm systems. 

While alarms don’t replace the need to have a parent present while the kids are swimming, when I checked out the topic for, I realized alarms do provide additional protection for the pool area. We studied this issue diligently, and concluded that having multiple alarms made the most sense – we were adding layers of protection around the pool area, which helped us better protect the kids.
  • Pool alarm. We have an alarm that floats in the water, and makes a loud noise at the pool and inside the house if a large object falls in the water. That protects against a child finding their way into the pool unattended.
  • Gate alarm. We also have alarms on the gates that access the pool, which makes a loud noise if the gate is open, sounding at the pool and inside the house as well. This alarm requires a passcode, and has a reset button so that it can be used by adults without triggering the alarm.
  • House alarm. Since our house is one side of the barrier around the pool, we installed an alarm on the door which has pool access. This alarm has controls that are high enough that the kids can’t reach them.
  • Child wristband alarms. When our children were small, we also put child wristband alarms on them, which signaled if they fell in the water. 

By taking a pro-active approach to the safety of our children while they are at the pool, we feel good about letting them frolic and play, and have the fun that a swimming pool is supposed to provide. By being vigilant and taking the safety issues seriously, we provide a safe pool environment, and I sleep better at night knowing that.

Guest post written by Becky Flanigan. Becky was an English major in college, and now uses those skills when writing freelance articles for Becky has a great time traveling with her husband, 3 kids, and 2 golden retrievers. She spends many happy hours at the family swimming pool, watching the kids and dogs splash and play. She is also an avid gardener – and even helps friends landscape and decorate their yards. 

Image Citation: fmgbain

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