Swimming pools are a world of fun for both kids and adults, but are they completely safe? From contamination to drowning, we hear a lot of stories about children being injured or losing their lives in or around swimming pools.
Public pools and private swimming pools each have their own set of characteristics that can pose some risks to children. The fact is, some caution needs to be exercised to make sure that swimming pools are safe for children.
Are swimming pools safe?
This question is difficult to answer as so many people use swimming pools everyday without death or injury, yet it’s clear that pools can be dangerous to small children. The fact is that swimming pools are an open body of water surrounded by concrete or tiles. It’s the open body of water, which poses a risk of suffocation or drowning, and the surrounding grounds, which can cause trips, slips, and falls, that cause the most hazards.
Essential swimming pool safety
When you hit the public pool you’re faced with a lot of signage explaining swimming pool safety and how to properly enter and exit the pool, walk around the wet grounds, and dive appropriately. These signs are there for a reason, and you must always pay special attention before taking your children or going for a swim yourself. It’s always good to read these signs – even if you’ve read them a million times – just to get a refresher and know what to look out for and keep an eye on while swimming.
When you have a swimming pool installed in your home, you will also be instructed on swimming pool safety and required to put up signage around your pool. Don’t think of these signs as some boring regulation that you need to adhere to, they are important to take note of to keep your swimming pool area safe.
Risks posed by swimming pools
So what are the risks posed by swimming pools, and how can you best mitigate these risks? Here are the biggest dangers that swimming pools can have:
- Drowning – This is an obvious one and the scariest to imagine. Never, ever leave your children unsupervised in a swimming pool, and never put them in water that is too deep for them to feel comfortable. If your children are in the deep end of the pool, make sure they have their floaties or life jackets on.Another good tip to prevent drownings and help children breathe underwater is using a full face snorkel mask. This helps children breathe naturally as they would on land, so even if their face does get submerged, they can maintain natural breathing.
- Slipping – Slipping on wet floors around a swimming pool is another big hazard that’s been known to occur. To prevent this from happening, it’s essential to have signage around your pool instructing people to walk and not run. Sometimes it just takes a small glance at one of these signs to slow your pace and remember to take it easy around the pool. Another good idea is to have a set of swimming pool sandals or slippers that people can wear around the pool area. Go for something non-slip that will add a bit of friction and make floors less slippery.
- Contamination – When it comes to public pools, there’s little you can do in terms of contamination besides make sure that you’re not adding to the issue. For your own private pool at home, there’s a lot that can be done to stop the water from being contaminated.Never swim after you currently have diarrhea, chickenpox, gastro, or athlete’s foot. Shower and wash your hands before entering the pool, and teach kids to never ‘go to the toilet’ in the water. If your children are young and not toilet-trained, make sure they’re wearing waterproof nappies in the pool. Teach children not to swallow the pool water, in case germs have gotten in, and exercise cleanliness around your pool as much as possible.
- Diving injuries – Another common swimming pool injury is diving injuries, which can happen when people dive into a part of the pool that is too shallow and hit their heads on the bottom. This is extremely dangerous and can cause a number of painful and long-term injuries, so children must be educated on the correct side of the pool to dive into (the deep side). For the best safety measures, don’t let children dive or jump into the pool without your supervision.
- Chemicals – Occasionally, putting in too many chemicals, not enough chemicals, or leaving chemicals around children can lead to risk of injury. Too many chemicals in the pool is never healthy and can cause rashes, burning, or skin irritation. Always ensure you’re putting the right amount of chemicals in and using them correctly, adding the chemicals to the water and not vice versa. Store pool chemicals away from the pool in a hidden space out of reach of children. At the same time, consider your own safety and always mix chemicals while wearing gloves and goggles.
How to make swimming pools safer
Even though swimming pools pose a number of risks, there are kids out there everyday enjoying the wonders of being in the water and splashing around. Don’t let your kids miss out on the fun of swimming – just exercise some caution to make swimming pools safer for your children.
- Supervision – The number one way to prevent injury around swimming pools is through constant supervision. Never let your eyes slip away from your kids for even a moment. That’s all it takes for them to do something silly. If your children are in the pool, put down your phone, book, and entertainment, and keep your eyes on them at all times. If you’re at a public pool, you can entrust a lifeguard, but it’s still important to be observant at all times.
- Barriers – The last thing you want is for your children to sneak into the pool without you knowing, and that’s why barriers are essential around a swimming pool as part of Australian Law. Every pool must have adequate fencing that children cannot unlock themselves. This simple rule has helped prevent many deaths and injuries from kids simply wandering into the pool area and slipping into the water by themselves. Put up a barrier or a good fence, and have peace of mind that your kids aren’t subject to swimming pool dangers.
Stay informed and stay safe
If you have your own pool at home, make sure you’ve kept it up to appropriate standards by using this checklist here. Going through this checklist every few months will stave off any risks and keep your swimming pool safe.
Public pools have their own strict regulations, and staying safe is all about educating your children into following the rules and listening to the lifeguard’s instructions. Swimming pools are wonderful places for children to learn to swim and have a lot of fun, so mitigating the risks can give you a peace of mind while the kids play!