Stay Safe in Your Pool!

May is National Water Safety Month! As you and your family prepare to enjoy your backyard pool area, it is important to remember to stay alert and safe around the pool. All month long we’ll be offering safety tips on our Facebook page and website in an effort to give you a fun, but safe, summer in your pool. Below, we offer five general tips for staying safe in your backyard escape:

1) Never swim alone

One of the riskiest things you can do in your backyard pool is swimming by yourself. If you absolutely feel you must swim alone, be sure to tell someone you trust that you are going swimming, how long you plan to be swimming and let them know when you finish.

This rule especially applies to children, who should never be allowed to swim or play near the pool area without supervision. Children between 1-4 years old have the highest risk factor for drowning, with the primary cause being a lapse in supervision. Always stay around the pool area when your children are in the water, and make sure that everyone is out of the water before leaving the pool area unsupervised.

2) Maintain your safety equipment

Safety equipment is essential for preventing and mitigating drowning disasters. All backyard pools should have:

  • Four-foot or taller fences surrounding the pool
  • Flotation devices (such as an emergency ring “life-saver”)
  • A pool rescue hook
  • Compliant drain covers

If your home serves as the fourth wall of the enclosed pool area, you should install an alarm on the door to alert you when someone enters the pool area from inside your home.

In addition to standard safety equipment, it is a good idea to develop a poolside safety kit in case of emergency. This kit should include:

  • A standard first aid kit
  • A pair of scissors (to cut hair, clothing or a pool cover, if needed)
  • A charged portable telephone

3) Educate yourself and your family

Many pool accidents end in disaster largely because the people in the area don’t know the best way to respond to the emergency. If your family owns a pool, at least one family member should learn basic life-saving techniques, such as CPR and rescue hook operation. You should also educate the entire family on the basics of pool safety. If you have younger children, we recommend making a game out of educating them about pool safety before the season starts. Once they learn pool safety rules, reinforce the knowledge by quizzing them or reminding them of the rules while in your pool area.

4) Stay safe on deck

Lifeguards are always yelling “no running” for a reason! The pool deck area is a wet environment, which is prone to be slippery. Walk carefully and with purpose when you are in the pool area, and don’t ever run. If you have poolside games such as cornhole, make sure to set up the equipment away from the edge of the pool, with plenty of room for others to move around the pool deck area. If you don’t have enough room on your patio for people to move about easily, consider moving the game outside of your pool area.

5) Learn to swim

A frightening 44% of Americans cannot perform all the steps necessary to be proficient at swimming, according to a survey by the American Red Cross. These steps include:

  • Stepping into water over your head
  • Returning to the surface and floating or tread water for one minute
  • Turning around in a full circle and find an exit
  • Swimming 25 yards to the exit
  • Exiting from the water

Surveys show that teaching your children to swim early can greatly reduce their chances of drowning. According to experts interviewed by the Washington Post, children rarely become competent swimmers before 6 or 7. But learning to swim is a gradual process that should be started around 4 or 5 years of age, and it is an essential life skill, especially if you have a pool in your backyard.

If you would like more resources on water safety, visit the National Water Safety Month website.