Swimming has its educational value – mental, moral, and physical – in giving you a sense of mastery over an element, and of power of saving life, and in the development of wind and limb.
My first job was at my neighborhood YMCA in Houston Texas, I coached soccer, lifeguarded, taught water aerobics, and taught swim lessons. I also answered phones, tutored fractions, read Harry Potter books to 5th graders, cleaned pools, signed up members etc. Working at the Y, you learn to do a little bit of everything. But the YMCA is super safety oriented. They believe that the key to water safety is education and I love that. So I’m pretty passionate about water safety with my kids. I’m not going to scare you with drowning statistics or nightmare stories, because they are everywhere. I’m just going to write about some water safety options that you should think about. The layered protection method of water safety is proven to work and not hard to implement. Swimming should be fun, swimming pools are fun, this method keeps everyone safe to have fun.
The best way to keep small children safe around a swimming pool is to make sure they’re properly supervised. But even the best supervision can sometimes lapse, which means other pool safety features need to be in place.
Pool safety begins with multiple safety features which keep young children out of the swimming pool area. The more “layers” of protection – or safety barriers – that are put in place, the more secure the pool area will be for young swimmers.
These layers of protection include pool alarm systems, pool fences, pool covers and swimming lessons for children. By using as many features as possible, parents can have the peace of mind that if their best intentions fail, the other barriers are there to keep the child safe.
Door Alarms for Swimming Areas
Door alarms activate when an outer door leading to a pool area is breached. These alarms sound a high-pitched signal similar to that of a smoke alarm. Similar alarms are available for windows that allow access to the swimming area. Small children can lean against a screen and fall through, allowing them access to the swimming pool. Door and window alarms are a first line of defense in swimming pool safety.
Swimming Pool Safety Fencing
Pool fences come in a variety of shapes and materials. Removable mesh pool fences allow families to swim without closing off the pool area for large parties or gatherings, but then allow the family to secure the pool area as soon as the swimmers are finished. The pool owners will need to be diligent and will need to remember to put the pool fence back in place after the party is over.
Wooden or plastic swim fencing provides a constant barrier to the pool area. These fences should be at least four feet tall. A self-closing, self-latching gate will ensure the area is hard to access for small children.
Swimming Pool Alarms
Swimming pool alarms either float on top of the water or sit at the edge of the pool. Both styles of alarms will need to be turned off or removed for swimming sessions. Pool caretakers and owners will need to remember to place the swimming pool alarms back in place after the swimmers exit the pool.
Small bands that are placed on toddlers’ wrists and work as alarms are available from several pool companies. These alarms activate as soon as they’re immersed in water. Some come with units that stay inside the house to sound the alarm when the wrist band is wet. The alarms will sound if the child is washing her hands or in the tub, so they need to be removed by the parent or guardian in these situations.
Swimming Pool Covers
Mechanical swimming pool covers securely cover the pool when not in use, preventing access to the water. Mesh swimming pool covers hook to the sides of the pool when in use and are removed by hand when the pool is in use.
Swimming Lessons for Children
Even if you do not own a pool, swim lessons are imperative for ALL children. You can do it yourself or sign up for swim classes. We’ve actually successfully taught two of our children to swim ourselves, but Milo is stubborn and doesn’t seem to want to learn to swim with us. So we will be enlisting help from a teacher for him. Every child is different, and he may just learn better from someone else. The main point of swimming lessons for young children is to help ensure they can get to the side of a pool if the need arises. They aren’t a fail-safe method for pool safety. Young children should always be supervised in the pool area, even if they’ve had swimming lessons and pool safety training.
Any safety features attached to the pool area will help keep toddlers safe. The primary safety feature should be proper supervision, but if a child slips away from supervision, door alarms, swimming pool safety fencing, swimming pool alarms and swimming lessons will all do their part to keep the child safe.
The toddler years = higher drowning risk than any other time. Let’s Keep Them Safe!
More Resources on Water Safety for Children
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