Did you know that May is Water Safety Month? It certainly makes sense, since the weather in May is starting to get perfect and everyone is eager to go swimming at the pool! That being said, both adults and children should keep some important pool safety tips in mind while they’re enjoying the swimming pool this month and for the rest of the summer.

Don’t Run Around the Pool Area

There are signs plastered around most swimming pools, outside and indoors, telling people not to run. They’re there for a reason and should be followed because running around the edge of the swimming pool can cause slips and falls. These slippery areas can cause an injury if you’re running too fast, and could even cause you or your child to fall in the water unprepared.

Stay Away From the Drains

The suction from swimming pool drains can be rather dangerous, especially for children. It’s best to stay away from them while enjoying the swimming pool. The suction from the drains can latch onto hair, bathing suits, and other small objects attached to children, leading to entrapment and possibly drowning.

Don’t Swim Alone

You or your children are at more risk if you go to the pool alone, or if you leave your child unsupervised. If you’re alone and find yourself struggling to stay afloat in the deep end, you’re more at risk without a friend or family member looking out for you.

Another thing to consider is if there is a lifeguard on duty, as “alone” doesn’t always mean without a friend or family member. If you’re not used to swimming or spending time at a swimming pool by yourself, you may want to wait until there is a lifeguard present before going swimming.

Don’t Dive or Jump in the Pool

You should always get into the water by walking down the ladder or the stairs. Jumping or diving in the pool can cause you to land on someone underwater that you didn’t notice, potentially injuring them. Repeated jumping also causes muscle strain, and diving into water that is too shallow can cause a serious head injury.

Don’t let this discourage you, since you can still dive in the water safely, just not anywhere you want! Most swimming pools will have a designated area deep enough to do all the cannonballs you want. This is a safe area to dive from and is reserved for this purpose.

Pay Attention to Designated Areas

Outdoor and indoor swimming pools are designed to have pools with deeper water, and other pools with more shallow water. It’s very important to pay attention to markings, usually along the sides of the pool, that show how deep that area is. There should also be quite a few signs that have clear information about deeper pool areas.

If you accidentally find yourself in a deeper area you aren’t used to, you can become overwhelmed quickly and potentially drown. Likewise, if you jump into an area of the pool that is more shallow than you expected, you can injure your ankle. For these reasons, it’s always best to double-check what areas of the pool are deeper than others.

Be cautious when using a Floating Device

We know it sounds backward, but floating devices in pools are not good for children. In fact, they are actually quite dangerous. Even though they may let parents relax a little bit while their children are swimming, floating devices actually give children a false sense of security and can cause more harm in the future. The problem is that if a child isn’t an independent swimmer and wears floaties, water wings or puddle jumpers, they aren’t able to understand what really feels like to be in the water and if they were to ever fall into the pool without one of these devices on, they could potentially drown because they wouldn’t know what to do. Since they have been trained with the floating devices, they would just think they will float.

Another issue with these devices is that they put the child in a more vertical position which is not the correct form for swimming and is the position that would actually make them sink to the bottom faster. The number one thing a parent can do for a child is to get them swim lessons and start them young!

Instead of using a floating device, we recommend layers of protection:

  1. Learn to swim! Every child should be given swim lessons. Swim lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88%! (some Florida counties offer them free for every child… unfortunately Duval isn’t one of them ☹) But even if your child has taken swim lessons, adult supervision is always required!
  2. Designate a “POOL WATCHER” – someone to watch the pool with no distractions and who is not drinking alcohol. Encourage adults to take turns but they are not “off-duty” until the next Pool Watcher is on!
  3. Install a self-closing, self-latching, ASTM-approved gate.
  4. Learn CPR.