Our top tips for a safe summer pool party season
It’s almost that time of the year again, when family and friends gather to celebrate the holidays and more often than not, there’s a pool involved. If you’re hosting a pool party this summer, here’s a few tips to make the occasion safe and fun for everyone attending – particularly the little ones.
- Introduce your little guests to your pool
All environments are different. Changes in pool temperatures, different depths of water and textures on the side of the pool can all influence how a child reacts to the water. A previously confident child may show signs of unease in an unfamiliar environment. It’s so important to introduce a child to a new pool environment properly.
When your guests arrive, take them to the pool area. A great way to ensure that everyone takes responsibility for their own child is to say: “It’s really exciting to have you here for a swim. Just a reminder that we’re all responsible for our own children in the pool.”
- Let your little (and big) guests know the pool rules
Setting rules and boundaries helps to keep everyone safe. When children first arrive at your home, and before they are in the pool, remind them that they should not be touching each other or pushing each other’s heads under the water. They should not encourage each other to hold their breath, a this can lead to blackouts.
There should be no rough play around the pool, such as pushing other people in, no running around the pool and no jumping or diving in the shallow end. Whenever children enter the pool make sure they do so from the shallow end, using the step.
- Get a feel for the skill level of your swimming guests
Ask the parents of the children if there any non-swimmers, or if there are children who are scared of the water. This will give you a good idea of the skill- and risk-level of the party. As the pool owner you should be in charge of opening the pool gate and inviting your guests to enjoy the pool. Explain that the pool gate should be always closed and securely latched.
If there are young swimmers, ask them to show you how confident they are in the water. You can do this by asking them to show you how they can float on their back. Another idea is to get them to perform ‘monkey monkey’ around the perimeter of the (this is where kids travel around the edge of the pool holding on and moving their hands to get around). Do not ask them to jump to you from the side of the pool – this just encourages children to think that there will always be someone to pick them up.
- Supervise young swimmers
Children under five years of age need one-on-one supervision, ideally at arm’s length. Older children can have a parent nearby, as long as they are in the pool area. When supervising children in the water make sure you have a pool noodle close by. If a child is struggling, don’t make a fuss, just pass them the end of the noodle and pull them safely to the side of the pool. If you’re supervising then you should be dressed in your swimmers ready to get into the water.
If your child can and has swum independently for at least two to three years, then as long as you have eyes on them, allow them to join other children in the pool. This can help encourage their independence. Remember, you want to encourage them in the water, but as an adult you need to be able to react. Be active in your supervision – you need your eyes on your child at all times. It’s not enough to stand nearby chatting and just checking every now and then. Vigilance is a must.
Remember that kids shouldn’t supervise other children at all until they could become a lifeguard at 17 years. Until then they don’t have the risk-taking profile to manage any situations which may arise.
- Pool toys – yes, or no?
Children love pool toys, but it’s important to remember to remove them when not in use. Children can easily get stuck under pool tools, so don’t leave them lying around. Put them away securely.
Pool noodles are one of the best pool toys because they are great for reach-rescue work and can’t trap a child underneath it. Diving rings and picking up items from the bottom is another great pool activity for kids of all ages. You can encourage children in their water confidence journey by showing them how to recover from a fall into the pool or from a floating object.
- Keep your pool area safe
Don’t have glassware around the pool or any sharp objects. When it’s time to eat make sure everyone is out of the pool, so that there are no distractions.
- Make pool safety part of your everyday life
Develop a routine around swimming. Children should know that they can’t go into the pool unless an adult has opened the pool gate for them. Make sure they hang up their towels in the same place – and never on the gate, as this may impair gate closure. Get them to check the buoyancy of their pool floats and toys before putting them in the water.
When they leave the pool, an adult should again be in charge of the pool gate. Once they’ve left the water, they should put the pool toys away and take their towels and any other objects from the pool area with them. Encourage children to put on dry clothes after their swim. If they remain in their swimmers, they may think it is OK to go for another swim without you realising.
Quick safety tick list
- Gauge the different swimming levels of all guests
- Allocate supervisor roles between the adults (encourage them to wear a hat or shirt that’s easily identifiable to children)
- Remind children that there is to be no running or pushing
- Point out the shallow and deep ends of your pool
- Remind everyone that the pool gate should be always shut and is to be only opened by an adult.