So where are your kids right now? Are you sure? Hopefully we know with some certainty. But there are always those times we do not know. Like when they are visiting with their friends. It is for these times that we need to make sure our kids are as aware of water safety as we are.
Water safety is not a single item, quick fix subject. Sure, there are many devices available to assist you with your backyard swimming pool, but true water safety should cover all types of water. Water Safety is a discipline that must be established for every household. This discipline can be taught to our kids as they grow up so they come to respect water as much as they enjoy playing in it. This discipline will be carried with them to their friend’s houses, beaches, lakes and canals where we are not in control of the safety devices available or the rules that govern use of the water.
Here are a few basic rules you could teach your kids’ as they are able to understand them.
- Never go into the water without an adult present. EVER. Not even for a second to retrieve something from the water. Make sure they know that you will never be angry with them if they ask you to assist them in retrieving something they have mistakenly dropped into the pool. Even if it is an item that shouldn’t be in the water. (The other side of this rule is for us parents: ALWAYS supervise children playing in or around water)
- Never dive headfirst into water. Enter the water feet first. We don’t always know how deep it is, or what is under the water if it is not clear.
- Always swim with a buddy.
- No horseplay in the water. Ever. We do not know each other’s capabilities.
We parents also have a responsibility to our kids and neighbors when it comes to our own backyard swimming pool. Remember, our neighbors and visitors children are as vulnerable as our own, and our pool safety plan should include them. I believe in a layered approach to pool safety. Don’t rely on just one thing.
- Get your kids swimming lessons as soon as you can. There is a lot of water in Florida and not all of it is protected. If your neighbor has small kids, offer to let them take swim lessons in your pool. It’s a great neighborly thing to do.
- Put a loud (battery operated) door chime on the main pool access door so you know when someone uses that door. It is a great first layer of defense, and cheap at about $20 from a place like Home Depot.
- If you install a baby fence, make sure your older children know the pool rules and boundaries, and make sure you enforce these rules. It is too easy for an older child to hop the fence or (worse) open the gate for an unauthorized swim, and little brother or sister to trail along right behind them. A good consequence of failing to observe a pool rule is to remove pool use for a period of time.
- A Pool Safety Net will prevent any unauthorized swimming until you allow it, and will also give you an unimpeded view of your pool and garden at all times. Modern Pool Safety Nets have been engineered for quick and easy daily use, and are light enough for a single parent to easily manage. With over 30 years of accident free use, they are a great option to consider.
In all instances, remember, these devices are used to prevent accidents, not to substitute for your supervision. Take your water responsibilities seriously, and we should all have a safe and enjoyable swimming season.