Having a swimming pool at home is a wonderful facility for the whole family. Whether you’re enjoying water play with the kids, are teaching them to swim or indulge in your love of swimming, pool time is an easy and fun way for the family to spend quality time together. It’s also a fantastic way to encourage the youngsters to enjoy being physically active from a young age.
That said, we all know that water can be dangerous. Did you know that it is possible for a child to drown in as little as 2 inches of water? A recent survey by the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) found that 60 children accidentally drown in the UK every summer. Sadly, most of these deaths could have been prevented by adhering to some basic water safety precautions as well as more education and knowledge of what to do in an emergency.
Clearly, in order to get the most enjoyment out of your pool, it’s important to make water safety top priority. We’ve taken advice from both the RLSS and SPATA (The Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association) and put together 8 top pool safety tips to keep your family safe from the dangers of water.
1 – Boundaries and fencing
When you install a residential swimming pool in your garden, make safety a priority. The pool should be protected by a fence or boundary that is at least 1.2 metres high and not accessible to unaccompanied children. Ideally, the pool area should remain locked until it is safe to use. Installing a pool or gate alarm to monitor access is also an excellent idea. If fencing off is not practical, you can place a secure cover on your pool (and also your hot tub and garden pond) instead.
2 – Proper pool maintenance
For a new swimming pool installation, make sure that your pool is safe to use before you and the kids get in. Once your installation is complete, it’s important to follow your supplier’s advice to maintain and service your pool properly and have all safety checks completed, so as not to invalidate the warranty. At Compass Pools, we offer a 20-year guarantee on the impermeability of your pool and against osmosis, while Silverline pools come with a 10-year guarantee.
3 – Practise constant vigilance
Accidents have a habit of happening when you least expect them and they can be horribly quick and silent – don’t let that happen. As a parent, you will already be used to keeping a close eye on your children at all times, and this is even more important in a poolside environment. It goes without saying that children and weak swimmers should always be closely supervised by an adult while they’re in the water or its vicinity. Give them your full attention, and don’t try to multitask.
4 – Enforce poolside safety
Keep the swimming pool area free from trip hazards – tidy away any toys, garden hoses, pool equipment etc. However excited the kids are about water play and swimming, and regardless of whether they’re toddlers or teenagers (or indeed adults!), make it a Number One Rule to WALK NEVER RUN around the pool, since slipping on wet surfaces by the pool can be just as dangerous as the water itself. If you have guests, make sure they are aware of your poolside safety rules too.
5 – Employ water safety items as necessary
For babies, toddlers and children who cannot swim, use buoyancy aids that give a degree of independence, such as baby swim seats, arm bands, swim vests, float boards etc., but only use them under strict adult supervision. You can also get swimming costumes with pockets containing removable floats, water suits made from UV protective fabric as well as anti-slip swim shoes. It all helps to keep the juniors safe in and around the water.
6 – Learn to swim
For parents, real peace of mind comes from the fact that your child can swim. It’s never too early or too late to learn to swim, and even getting babies and toddlers used to being in the water is a great start. Find out about swimming lessons in your local area or engage a private swimming teacher who will come to your home. Swimming is such a valuable life skill – for children and adults alike – that you really cannot afford to miss out.
7 – Swimming no-no’s
Knowing that those who use the pool in your home can swim can be a huge burden off your shoulders – but that doesn’t mean you can ever relax completely around water. Weak swimmers must make sure they stay within a safe depth – they should be able to touch the bottom with their feet – and ideally should be supervised in the water. Experienced swimmers should never dive into water that is less than 1.5 metres deep, and be careful not to enter the pool after drinking alcohol.
8 – What to do in an emergency
Finally, if something does go wrong in the pool, would you know what to do in an emergency situation? As a first response, make sure you always have easy access to rescue aids such as a lifebuoy ring, float board, safety torpedo, rope or reach pole. Learning First Aid and CPR is highly recommended – it’s a skill that ideally everyone in the family should have. St John’s Ambulance have a range of First Aid courses for the general public that are worth checking out.