Tomorrow, May 15th is International Water Safety Day. I have a wish for all of us that it truly is a safe and happy swim season. There is one sure way to make that happen. Every parent, guardian, babysitter or supervisor at pool side needs to promise to disconnect. What do I mean by that?
I mean as caretakers of young swimmers we need to promise ourselves that we will not allow ourselves to be distracted when we are doing the job of watching the children in the pool. Disconnect from the outside world. Nothing … and I mean nothing should take us away from being in the moment with the kids or bad things occur. No phones, no texting, no running to look at the roast, no doorbells answered, no neighbors over the fence- nothing but staying in the moment with the swimmers. If this means that swim time can only be 20 minutes then so be it.
There is no substitute for adult supervision of young swimmers, no device, no fence, no government program does the job that an attentive adult can in protecting our children. Please give young swimmers your time, and as I have said in the past please make your babysitters and other caregivers understand that sitting in proximity to the pool does not make an attentive pool guardian. If the sitter can’t watch the kids swim without checking the internet - get a new sitter. If grandma thinks its okay to bake a batch of cookies while the kids swim, don’t let her watch the kids.
If you absolutely have to leave poolside as a guardian you need to have a special place designated on the patio or in the house that provides a 100% barrier between the children and the pool until you return. This can be a child gate or fence, or a house door. Be sure to reward the kids with a treat when they have stayed in their safe place while you were away, and also make sure you continue the swim session for a bit after an interruption so they know they will get swim time after a proper use of the safe place. Failure to use the safe place properly by kids should be a termination of the swim session. You need to test this system with multiple watchers before putting it to use and make sure your barriers are failsafe.
It’s also a good idea to put a mat or another marker of some kind on the deck to show young swimmers a safe spot from which they can jump into the pool. Don’t let them decide where they can jump in. You don’t want weak novice swimmers jumping in the deep end and you don’t want bigger better swimmers learning to dive in shallow water, be specific where they can jump from into the pool.
Please also make sure that the pool itself is safe- all drains must be properly covered, lights must be working for night swimming, the water must be clear so you can see details on the bottom of the pool and all egresses must be functioning with no sharp edges- ladders, rails, edges and steps. Decks must be clear of hazards, and trip and fall or slippery areas must be eliminated to have a safe pool.
If we can help you with any aspects of making your pool safe please do not hesitate to call on us.
Post by: Gary Crayton III