Swimming pools are one of the best ways to enjoy summer, but they aren’t without risk. Tragically, about one in five drowning deaths are in children under the age of 14.
Children are at higher risk of drowning as they may not yet be confident swimmers, or they enter the water without proper supervision. If you’re installing a backyard pool for your family, keep the kids safe by understanding a few key water safety tips.
With rules in place, you and the kids will stay safe. Not sure what safety precautions you should be following? If so, keep reading to find nine water safety tips for families—they could save the life of a loved one.
- Install a Fence
Securing your new pool is one of the most important safety precautions for water. Install a fence, and a pool cover, ensuring that no one can access your pool when you’re not home.
The cover should always be in place, except when the pool is in use.
A secure, locked fence stops neighbors or animals from getting into the pool when you’re away, which can be dangerous. Many towns require homeowners with pools to have a fence as a safety precaution, so check your legal requirements.
If you’re unsure if an in-ground or above-ground pool is right for you, learn more about above-ground pools in this guide.
- Never Swim Alone
When teaching kids basic water safety, make sure they know to never swim alone. Even adults should follow this rule, as injury or accidental drowning can happen in minutes.
Teach your children why swimming alone is so dangerous, and make sure they know that they’ll always need to ask permission before going in the pool. Children should also understand which areas of the pool are safe for them to swim in, as you should rope off areas with deeper water.
- Always Actively Supervise Children
When kids are in the pool, an adult should always be actively supervising. This doesn’t mean sitting nearby and barbecuing or enjoying a drink!
If you’re having a party, set up a rotation system where each parent takes turns watching the kids in the water, making sure they stay safe. Or, you may want to hire a lifeguard for the party, a great way to keep everyone safe.
- Teach Children to Swim
Water safety education should start when children are very young, helping them get comfortable in the water. If your kids aren’t already strong swimmers, invest in swimming lessons to brush up on their skills.
Swimming lessons are a lot of fun for kids, but they also teach proper technique, confidence in deep water, and pool safety skills.
- Always Enter the Water Feet First
Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the depth of water, especially in lakes or oceans. It’s important to teach kids to enter the water feet first.
Diving into water that’s too shallow can cause serious spinal injuries, so kids must know only to dive in designated diving areas of swimming pools.
Entering and exiting the water safely avoids slips and accidents as well.
- Don’t Run on the Pool Deck
If your pool has a paved patio or deck, teach your young ones not to run on it. Pool decks very quickly become wet from splashing and pool use, making them slippery surfaces.
Although playing in the pool is exciting, running on wet surfaces leads to scrapes or broken bones.
- Be Sun Smart
Water safety just isn’t about the pool—it’s also about the sun. Enjoying the pool on a hot summer day is refreshing, but you also need to take care to avoid too much sun exposure.
Always apply sunscreen to kids before they enter the pool, giving it time to dry first. You’ll need to reapply throughout the day, especially after toweling off.
In addition to sunscreen, encourage kids to wear a hat and to limit their sun exposure on days with a high UV index. Teaching kids safe sun habits from a young age will help them avoid premature aging or skin cancer as they get older.
- Learn CPR
At least one adult in the household should complete a CPR class. When it comes to water safety and drowning, CPR is an essential step to resuscitate kids or adults who have stopped breathing.
You can usually find free or low-cost CPR and first-aid classes through the YMCA or your local community college. Although you’ll probably never need to use it, knowing CPR provides great peace of mind.
- Consider a Life Jacket for Young Children
If you have very young kids, you may want to purchase a life jacket for them as they splash around in the pool. Toddlers and young ones, who may not be strong swimmers yet, can slip under the water in seconds.
Even worse, if a swimming pool is crowded, this may not be noticed right away. A floatation device can help your kids stay safe until they are able to swim on their own.
Enjoy Summer with These Water Safety Tips
Having your own backyard pool is one of the best ways to enjoy the summer. However, swimming can quickly turn dangerous if you’re not careful, so use the tips above to come up with a set of rules and safety tips for your pool.
Once children understand how to swim and play safely in the pool, you and your family can enjoy years of happy summers, splashing and swimming on hot days. When your children have friends come over, make sure they understand all the pool safety rules as well.
With the right water safety tips, you’ll have an amazing (and healthy) summer!
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