Pool Safety: What you Need to Know
A hot summer afternoon in Arizona often means spending time in the pool with family and friends. This can be a great time to cool off, get active, and enjoy our beautiful weather, but pools can be dangerous. Check out these tips to stay safe next time you dive in.
- Install a fence at least four feet tall around the pool, which should ideally surround the pool on all four sides and completely separate it from your home and yard. It should not have any gaps that a small child could slip over, under, or through. The gate should be a self-closing and self-latching without the ability to be be opened or reached by a small child.
- Add an extra layer of protection with alarms or notifications for your pool, pool gate, doors, and windows that can alert you when someone is in or around the pool.
- Ensure your pool and property enclosure is compliant with safety requirements per your home’s city or county building code.
Designate a Water Watcher
Never leave children alone, even for a moment, in or near a pool or other body of water including lakes, beaches, and even bathtubs or buckets of water.
When any inexperienced swimmer is around the pool area, make sure there is a designated adult providing continuous supervision. This adult should not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, should not have any distractions (including cell phones, books, magazines, etc.), and preferably knows how to swim and perform CPR. Ensure your designated Water Watcher is aware they are the only one providing supervision and must hand off the responsibility to another qualified adult if they become distracted or need to leave the pool area. Some households use a lanyard or other item to identify the designated Water Watcher and have a physical item to hand off when transferring responsibility to someone else.
Learn to Swim
Consider parent/toddler swim classes for children over the age of one. These classes help little ones get used to the water and are a good introduction for future swimming lessons. Children ages four and up are typically ready for independent swimming lessons. Talk to your pediatrician about your child’s developmental readiness to take swim lessons. There are a variety of options for swimming lessons for children of all ages, as well as adults, at public pools, private pools, and even your own home. Wherever your child learns to swim, if you have a pool at home or elsewhere that you use regularly, make sure swimmers are familiar with the layout of the pool like changes in water depth and the location of the steps.
Use the Buddy System
Even experienced adult swimmers should never swim alone. Medical and environmental emergencies unrelated to swimming ability can often pop up when they’re least expected. Swimming with a buddy provides an extra layer of safety and it’s more fun too.
Check Your Equipment
- Keep rescue equipment like a safety hook and life preserver near the pool for easy access in case of emergency.
- Avoid inflatable swim aids like floaties, as they are not a substitution for proper life-preserving equipment like life jackets.
- Talk to your pool operator to make sure your pool (and spa if you have one) drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act.
Use Caution Around Chemicals
Chemicals like chlorine keep our pools nice and clean but they can have serious affects on your health if used improperly. Always follow the instructions on the chemical packaging for storage and use and make yourself aware of the recommended emergency treatment for various types of accidental exposure or ingestion. It’s also a good idea to program the phone number for Poison Control into your phone (1-800-222-1222).
Avoid Sunburn and Dehydration
It’s easy to get sunburned and dehydrated in the pool because the water keeps you cool. Even if your skin doesn’t feel hot, be sure to apply and reapply sunscreen, protect exposed skin with a t-shirt or wide-brimmed hat, and seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s ultraviolet rays are the strongest. Keep a water bottle near the pool and drink up even if you’re not thirsty. There’s a good chance you’re sweating underwater (either from the outdoor temperature or physical exertion) and you need to replenish your fluids to stay hydrated. Make sure everyone in and around the pool is familiar with the signs of heat-related illness and seek first aid or medical treatment when needed.
Do Not Swim During Storms
Afternoon thunder and lightning (or electrical) storms are common during the summer in Arizona and water conducts electricity. In the event of a storm the National Lightning Safety Institute recommends evacuating the pool immediately and seeking shelter inside the house until at least 30 minutes after the last thunder is heard.
Your NOAH provider is a great resource for water safety, heat-related illness, and sun exposure. If you haven’t had a check-up recently or have a specific concern, schedule an appointment, we’d love to see you.