Summer pool safety tips for the family

7 October 2016

As providers of water safety lessons for more than 60 years, we've heard countless stories of near misses at pool and waterside locations.

From the drowning child hidden from view by the towel hanging on the pool fence, to the dog caught in a floating pool cover, they are stories that strike fear in our hearts and aren't forgotten quickly.

Water safety survival skills are vital for anyone who spends time at a pool, beach, river or lake location, and especially where children are involved because they can easily misjudge a situation and find themselves in strife at a split second.

Here are some strategies to keep your family safe around the pool this summer:


Line of sight

A simple towel hanging over a pool fence between your kitchen window and the pool can be all it takes for you not to see a drowning child. Make sure that you have a clear line of sight to the pool when children are swimming, whether you are inside or away from the pool enclosure.


Inquisitive children

Children are naturally curious and it only takes a tempting floaty pool toy that they reeeeeally want to reach, for tragedy to strike. A child can stretch too far or slip on a wet surface and suddenly fall into the water. Keep toys on dry ground inside the pool enclosure when they're not being used and make sure the pool is fenced off or that children ask permission before entering the enclosure if they are tall enough to open the gate latch.


Adults in charge

Whether it's a pool party at your place, a friend's place or the local swimming pool, there should always be at least one adult in charge of the children in the pool. We've heard of some parents taking it in turns to watch over the children on half-hour roster-like rotations and even a high-vis vest for the 'parent in charge'. Other parents have common agreement to each be mindful of their own child. Whatever your plan - make sure you have a plan. Chat it over with the other adults around you to make sure there is always at least one adult with a careful eye on children playing in the pool.


Know a child's swim strength (or lack of)

Some children are better at swimming than others - and it's particularly important to know this if you're hosting a 'pool party'. Ask each child (or their parent) whether they are confident in the water - and if they aren't consider having more than one adult on hand.


Diving and jumping

Diving and jumping into the pool is an innocent cause of swimming pool tragedies every year. Some well-known safety rules around the pool and a responsible adult on hand is essential for such activities.


Soft floating pool covers/warmers

Soft floating pool covers can be accidentally mistaken for a firm surface. But stepping onto it can result in a pet or person sinking into the water and becoming tangled in the cover. Family members should understand how the pool cover works, and keep the pool area closed off when the cover is on.


Phone nearby (but not in your pocket)

These days most of us have a phone in our pocket (or our hand) a lot of the time. But your beloved iPhone will not survive if you dive into the pool in an emergency rescue situation - and it will be no help if you need to dial 000 after. Consider keeping a phone near the pool area in case you need it for emergency, rather than in your back pocket.


The difference a second makes

It only takes a split second for a child playing on the water's edge to turn into tragedy. It goes without saying that if a child has access to or is playing near the edge of any pool, beach, lake, river or even bath, stay close by and keep watch over them.


Pets and pools

We often hear about keeping children safe around the pool, but what about your fur-children? Pets, especially dogs, can come into trouble due to their naturally playful, inquisitive and exploring nature. They can be accidentally locked inside a fenced-off pool enclosure, chase a ball, butterfly or toy into the water, or mistake floating pool warming covers for ground and become tangled under water. Not all pets can swim well so keep your furry one safe by fencing off the pool and keeping an eye on where your pet is if it's in the enclosure with you.


Swimming lessons - water safety skills

It goes without saying that lessons in water safety and swimming are essential for anyone who will spend time in or around a pool, beach, river or lake. Enrolling your family members in water safety and possibly lifesaving skills equips them with the necessary skills to act responsibly around the water, to be safe in the water, and to know what to do if they or a 'buddy' get into strife.


For more information about water safety and swimming lessons check out our website.