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A backyard swimming pool is a beautiful and fun gathering place for family and friends. May is National Water Safety Month and is the perfect time to make sure you and your family are prepared to spend fun and safe days by the water. When you go into a backyard with a pool, you should check some basic things prior to allowing your child to swim. Here are a few tips that will last you through the summer:
1. Keep an Eye Out
It is vital that parents teach their children not to go into the pool or spa area unsupervised; this includes kids that are visiting for a play date. Accidents happen quickly and drowning is usually silent. Children should not run or play around the pool area or try to retrieve anything that may have fallen into the pool or spa without your help. When it comes to diving, please make sure that your children know the dangers associated with diving into the pool. It may all seem like fun and games to them, but the dangers are real.
When there’s a pool party going on with children, designate an adult to be a water-watcher. Rotate adults as needed, but make sure the adult understands its his or her job to watch the water, which means no socializing, talking on the phone, or engaging in social media. Keep your phone (with emergency numbers on speed dial) within easy reach outside by the pool. Monitor the number of toys and floats in the pool so that you have an unobstructed view of the children.
If you lose sight of your child, go to the pool immediately. Immediate reaction can make the difference between life and death. It's very important for parents to be prepared for an emergency. We recommend you research your local community for a first aid course. Prevention thwarts tragedies, so be sure to choose pool accessories carefully and with the safety of everyone who will be using the pool in mind. Keep your swimming pool water clean and clear, so you can easily see the bottom of the pool for any anomalies. Water clarity also ensures your child is not being exposed to unhealthy waterborne illnesses.
2. Check Your Pool Drains
Ensure your swimming pool and/or hot tub complies with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGBA), which requires features to prevent entrapment. Entrapment can occur when a pool/spa suction outlet (drain) creates higher than allowable suction forces and can hold a bather/swimmer down at the suction outlet/drain cover, trapping them below the surface of the water. Make sure that the suction outlet (drain) covers are in good shape, not cracked/broken, and properly secured in place. Entrapment can also occur from openings in the pool wall or floor in which a child can get their arms or legs caught; protrusions in the pool walls on which bathing suits, hair or jewelry can get entangled in; or even features in the pool like ladders behind which a child can get stuck.
3. No Diving In Shallow Water
Kids and adults love to dive. Pools are designed for many things, and diving pools must adhere to codes that require certain depths in the pool that are safe for diving. Do not allow anyone to dive in shallow depths.
4. Keep Pool Clear of Unsafe Materials
If you are in a backyard, check for radios or electronics near the pool and remove the danger immediately. Lights should not be hanging over the pool or spa area. Prohibit glass containers near or in the pool. Have fun, but keep safety as your number 1 priority. Our children are our most precious gifts.
5. Use Alarms and Fences to Prevent Accidents
Door alarms should be installed on any door that grants access to the backyard pool so that you know if a child exited to the backyard. There are several types of pool alarms that signal when the pool area is being disturbed or when someone has entered the water. Water alarms are usually able to tell the difference between a larger creature versus a toy or rain, thereby possibly reducing the nuisance of an alarm constantly going off.
Installing a pool fence is also another great way to prevent accidents. There are many stylish options out there these days, so your pool can be safe and beautiful all year round.
Remember, it's not only your children that are at risk, so if you have pets make sure that they too can not access the pool area.
6. Swim Lessons are a Must
Lastly, consider enrolling any non-swimmers in swimming lessons. Even though young children may not master swimming immediately, they’ll learn safety rules about not entering the water without an adult.