As summer starts to fully manifest in Southern California, more businesses and private residences are beginning to open their pools. While swimming can offer a welcome reprieve from the heat, it also presents dangers. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children under the age of 6, so it’s essential for parents to know basic pool safety and teach it to their children. The following tips can help you keep your children safe around water this summer and avoid any premises liability situations.
1. Check Your Fencing
If you own a pool, having a well-maintained fence around it is more than just a good idea – it’s the law in California. Under California law, pools are an “attractive nuisance,” which means kids might find it irresistible to play in. You will likely be liable for any injury a child sustains in your pool, even if it was without your permission. One of the simplest ways to avoid this scenario is by keeping a well-maintained fence around the pool itself, complete with a locking gate. Keep a fence around your pool itself in addition to the perimeter fence.
As an additional safety measure, consider a motorized, rigid pool cover for when your pool is not in use. This will help ensure that children cannot fall in when unsupervised. Just make sure to keep the area clear of standing water and rainfall, as even a small puddle can present a risk of drowning.
2. Stay Within an Arm’s Reach
When your child is playing in or near water, keep your eyes on him or her at all times. If your child is in a pool and cannot swim well, get into the water with him or her – even when he or she is wearing a life jacket. Never let a babysitter take your child swimming unless you’re sure he or she will provide constant supervision. You should be able to reach out and grab a child at all times when they’re in the water.
3. Carefully Choose Your Swimming Area
Whenever possible, choose pools that have supervision by a certified lifeguard. However, it’s also important not to rely too heavily on lifeguards – they’re there to provide assistance in an emergency and prevent life-threatening accidents, not to babysit your child. Nothing trumps careful parental supervision when it comes to preventing drowning accidents.
4. Only Use Proper Floatation Devices
Inflatable devices like arm tubes aren’t approved to provide safe floatation. Only a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal floatation device, or “PFD” can do that. Always make your child wear a Coast-Guard approved PFD when playing in open water or participating in recreational water sports – even if he or she is a good swimmer.
5. Watch Your Kids Around Inflatable Pools
Lastly, be wary of purchasing or using inflatable kiddie pools for your babies and toddlers. Experts often warn against these, because the larger version often proves too heavy to empty after each use. Moreover, you should avoid using one when you don’t have a fenced in yard, as any neighborhood kid could stumble into it and drown.
Many parents make the mistake of thinking that their 3-4-year-old children don’t require supervision in pools like these, but they too can drown in just a few minutes. When a child that age falls and inhales water, he or she may become scared, panic, and not have the wherewithal to climb out of the pool. If you have an inflatable pool in your yard, provide constant supervision and drain after each use.
Drowning may be a leading cause of death in young children, but it’s preventable with the right approach. Follow these pool safety tips to keep your kids safe this summer pool season.