The May long weekend officially marked the beginning of summer for Ontario pool owners. Home owners have opened their backyard pools and are planning parties with friends and family to celebrate the outdoor season. Many tweens are already starting to plan their end-of-the-school-year pool party. But home owners should never let the excitement of the season overshadow the need to make safety the top priority on their to-do list.
Owners can start by completing a thorough inspection of the backyard and pool. This should include the gate and fencing. The gate should close and latch securely on its own and be locked when the pool area is not in use. The area around the fence needs to be secure so that no one, no matter how small, can get in through openings or gaps. Removing obstacles and debris will ensure that the area is free of tripping hazards. Diving boards, slides and any other equipment should be checked to ensure they are fastened securely and that non-slip surfaces are still intact.
The silent killer
More than 500 Canadians drown each year, according to the Lifesaving Society, with drowning being the second highest cause of accidental death for tweens and younger children. 42% of drownings occurred in backyard pools when children were not being adequately supervised by adults.
Children must never be left alone around any water and must be supervised by an adult at all times. This includes inflatable or wading pools, hot tubs, wells, ponds and for younger children even buckets. Drowning can happen quietly and in just a few seconds. Non-swimmers and weak swimmers should wear life jackets at all times when in and around the pool. Arm and other types of floaties are considered toys and not proper pool safety equipment.
Tweens love to play with floating objects in the pool but some objects intended for water use can be dangerous and should be avoided. Inflatable boats or buoyant lounge chairs and mats are hazardous in the pool as swimmers can become trapped underneath them. These objects are too big for a pool and make it difficult to adequately supervise everyone in the water.
Never let your guard down
Adults who supervise swimmers should not be distracted by anything, including a ringing phone, a text or another child. It is impossible for one adult to entertain, prepare food and supervise at the same time. Designate at least one adult to focus solely on pool supervision or hire a trained and equipped lifeguard so that hosts can be free to socialize and tend to their guests. More than one parent will be needed to manage and oversee lifeguarding requirements, food preparation and general entertaining at your tween’s end of the year pool party!
All supervising adults should be strong swimmers and know first aid and CPR. Keep safety equipment near the pool. This includes a well-stocked first aid kit, a reaching pole, a phone in case of emergency and a ring buoy attached to a rope.
Adults should be aware of temperatures outdoors and in the water that are either too hot or too cold. Know the signs and symptoms of heat and cold related emergencies, such as hypothermia and heat stroke. Naturally, don’t forget to apply and reapply sunscreen often to protect children from the sun’s harmful rays.
Awareness and common sense are key to owning a backyard pool. With preventative safety measures in place, all can enjoy the season in and around the backyard pool free from injury or death! Happy Summer!
Image courtesy of Chaiwat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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About Velma Ganassini
Velma Ganassini is the mother of 3 terrific boys, founder of the multi-award winning SOS First Aid and Safety Training, co-founder of SOS 4 Kids Inc (www.sosfirstaid.ca) and co-author of Home Alone Safety for kids. She is dedicated to making injury prevention information more interesting and engaging for children and adults. Follow Velma on Twitter @sosforkids.