In the summer months, there are few things children love more than spending a summer afternoon swimming at the pool. Going to the pool is a great way to spend time with your family, get relief from the summer heat, and get some great exercise.
However, pools pose a risk of drowning and injury—specifically head and spinal injuries. It is estimated that nine people drown every day in the United States, and drowning is the leading cause of accidental injury-related death for children between the ages of 1 and 4. Furthermore, each year approximately 800 Americans are permanently paralyzed from diving-related accidents. That’s why it’s so important to take the necessary precautions to ensure your child’s safety while in and around a pool.
The following safety tips will help make you and your child’s pool days safe and fun this summer.
- Never Let Children Swim Unattended—Even kids who are great swimmers are at risk of drowning. It is essential to constantly watch children in the pool, as only a few seconds of distraction is enough time for a child to drown. It is equally as important to watch your children carefully at pools with lifeguards. The guard on duty must supervise a large area, so your child may not be his or her first priority – but should always be yours.
- Don’t Just Dive In—Injuries from diving can cause neck injuries and possibly paralysis, which can also unfortunately lead to drowning. It has been found that an estimated 10 percent of all spinal cord injuries are related to diving into water with more than 6,000 adolescents hospitalized from diving-related injuries each year. The majority of diving-related injuries result from swimmers diving in waters that are too shallow. Our bodies’ velocity often causes our arms to slip, allowing the head and neck to crash into the pool’s floor. To keep your kids safe while diving, check how deep the water is by going in feet first, and never allow them to dive in the shallow end of a pool or through inner tubes or any other pool toys.
- Always Walk—Children often run around a pool when playing together. However, it is important for parents and guardians to implement a strict no running policy in the pool area. Children running around a pool have a significant risk of slipping on the wet concrete or slick surrounding surface, which can lead to fractures, dislocations, cuts, and even brain and head injuries.
- Don’t Substitute Flotation for Supervision—Flotation devices such as inflatable wings, tubes or vests have been known to give parents a false sense of security regarding their child’s safety. These devices are not infallible—the plastic may be punctured and pop or merely shift in way that does not effectively support the child. These swimming aids are a great complement to adult supervision, but you should never rely on them completely.
- Avoid Drain Entrapments—It is essential for you to keep your children away from pool drains or pipes. Often the suction from a pool’s drains is strong enough to trap a swimmer underwater. A child’s hair, limbs or bathing suit can become caught in a drain, so you may want to check with a pool operator or private pool service to make sure all pool drains have the proper, functioning drain covers.
Swimming pools are a wonderful place for children to cool off and have fun during the summer months. However, parents must do their part to keep pools fun and safe by always watching children while they are swimming and following these simple safety tips.