6 Water Safety Activities Every Family Must Know (Pool Safety)

6 Water Safety Activities Every Family Must Know (Pool Safety)

6 Water Safety Activities Every Family Must Know (Pool Safety)

6 Water Safety Activities Every Family Must Know (Pool Safety)

from Cheerios and Lattes

Swimming pools, ponds, lakes, neighborhood pools, water parks, rivers, streams, hot tubs, hotel pools, the ocean, inflatable water slides, etc. Chances are, even if you don’t have a swimming pool in your backyard your children will encounter water this Summer. ‘Pool Safety’ doesn’t necessarily sound like the most exciting of subjects in teaching your child to swim, yet ironically it is the MOST IMPORTANT subject! Pool Safety encompasses the heart of the Teach Your Child to Swim- Summer Series. It is also most likely the reason why you are choosing to read this series; you want your children to be safe around water!

Establishing Pool Procedures & Routines

Most families have procedures and routines as a part of their daily lives, even those who would refer to themselves as “unscheduled.” For example, your children wash their hands before they eat, you brush your teeth multiples times a day, you put your shoes on before going outside, you eat dinner before you go to bed, etc These are procedures and routines. They often get tagged with a negative conotation and are associated with a “bunch of rules,” but most of the time they are simply just “the way things are done.”

It is a the responsibility of parents to develop and establish procedures and routines for their homes. For families with a pool at home, it is VITAL that you sit down, first as a parent(s), and then together with your children, to develop and establish your home pool procedures and routines.

For Families with Pools (in-ground, above ground, spa, plastic pools, inflatable pools, etc.):

1. Parents need to sit down and write out a list of expectations: procedures for how your family will handle your pool, and what your pool routine will look like. Remember that even if you do not have a large pool, a small plastic or inflatable pool can be just as dangerous. All types of pools require procedures and routines to ensure the safety of all children.

Examples:

Everyone goes to the bathroom before putting on swimsuits (important for families with young children)

Children should not go outside or close to the water area without a parent. Establish an area they are to sit while they are waiting

When sunscreen gets applied and reapplied

Where parents will watch the children swimming so they can see the entire pool: the bottom, corners, and top surface

What will the children do when someone needs to go to the bathroom, the phone rings, the doorbell rings, someone gets hurt, etc.

How the pool equipment is to be handled. What equipment is only for adults, and what is allowed to be used by children and visiting friends

Consequences for not following the established pool rules and procedures

Signals (whistle blown, a shout, a clapping sound, music is turned off) that will be used to get the attention of the swimmers to stop, look, and listen to directions

How often will swimmers be expected to take breaks? How long will they last? (A 5 minute break every 30 minutes for younger kids or 10 minutes every hour for older kids is recommended.)

2. Write up, and practice your family’s pool procedures and routines. Remember it is the parents responsibility to ESTABLISH these routines not just develop them; being consistent and disciplined in their establishment will ensure the safety and enjoyment of your pool. It will also make your responsibility as a parent easier and less stressful!

It is recommended that during the swimming season, you have your family’s ‘Water Procedures’ posted in a place where everyone will see them, and can review them before entering the water. Place them at the childrens eye level. Even if they cannot read, the visual will be a reminder to them. It is important to verbally remind young children of the rules each time they go for a swim.

When Visiting a Community Pool (neighborhood pool, a friend’s home pool, a water park, etc.)

1. Parents need to sit down and write down/discuss what their expectations are for their children when visiting a community pool.

Examples:

Everyone goes to the bathroom before putting on their swimsuits (important for families with young children)

Children do not to go close to the water area without a parent. Establish an area they are to sit while they are waiting.

The rules of the particular pool you are visiting; read the signs to your children.

Walking, not running

When sunscreen gets applied and reapplied

Where parents will ‘set-up’ and leave their supplies.

What the children do when someone needs to go to the bathroom, someone gets hurt, etc.

What pool toys are allowed in the pool and how you expect them to behave with those particular toys

Consequences for not following the established pool rules and procedures.

Signals (whistle blown, a shout, a clapping sound, music is turned off) that will be used to get the attention of the swimmers to stop, look, and listen to directions.

How often will swimmers be expected to take breaks? How long will they last? (A 5 minute break every 30 minutes for younger kids or 10 minutes every hour for older kids is recommended.)

2. Discuss and practice your family’s pool procedures and routines. Remember it is the parents responsibility to ESTABLISH these routines not just develop them; being consistent and disciplined in their establishment will ensure the safety and enjoyment of your pool visit. It will also make your responsibility as a parent easier and less stressful!

3 Safety Activities to Teach Children

1. What is a Water Emergency? (When to Call for Help)

Children (young children in particular) seem to think every problem is an emergency. It is important to teach children the difference between a problem, and an emergency. Our family defines a problem as something you need help to fix that is not harmful or hurting to you. We define an emergency as a problem that needs help RIGHT NOW. You YELL “HELP!” for an emergency, and you ASK “Can you help me please?” for a problem. A problem is something you can ask and does not require yelling. A great book/story to share with your child is The Boy Who Cried Wolf, to teach them the reasoning behind not yelling for every problem they encounter. (We are still daily working on this with our oldest son, both in and out of the pool, by no means do we have this perfected! We are a work in progress.)

2. Pushing off the Bottom of the Pool (Bobbing Up and Down)

Chrissy (the co-author of this series) shares that when asked what most near-drowning victims remember most about their drowning experience is “being at the bottom of the pool.” They experience a sense of helplessness, and for this reason, it is very important for everyone (especially children) to be empowered in swimming safety by routinely practicing the simple act of pushing off the bottom of the pool. For those who are “swimmers” the importance of this is usually overlooked, however, this activity could save your child’s life in deep water!

I recommend doing this with kids 3 years and older. Begin first on land, have them squat down and jump – make it a game similar to the Lily Pad Hopping (as it requires the same motion) an outdoor gross motor activity I shared recently. Then practice this in shallow water where they are able to stand with their head above water. Have them squat down and push off of the bottom of the pool. it is not necessary for them to get their head under water, but just to get used to the idea of pushing up from the bottom of the pool. Now move them into some deeper water; have them straighten their legs, then when their legs hit bottom, have them bend their knees and push off. Remind them that this is what they need to do when they go underwater, this will help them understand and know what to do in case they ever start to drown in a pool. It is good to practice this activity periodically.

3. Experience “The Deep End”, to Help Children Develop a Healthy Respect of Water

Another important activity that I recommend that parents do at pools, is to take their kid to “the deep end” so they understand that they cannot touch (a good definition for deep water is- water that is 6-12 inches deeper than the child’s height: eg. a child that is 4′ 2″ would find water that is 4′ 8″ deep as deep water). Often parents say “don’t swim past this point”, and kids often want to push the limit. Kids might know it’s “deep”, but not really understand what the word means in relation to their safety. Chrissy shares, “This week during a lesson, I had a child tell me that he could touch in the deep end, so we swam to the deepest point in the pool. I held him up and he straightened his legs only to realize that they would not reach the bottom. Because of this simple act, he now understands why he cannot go to into the deep section of the pool until he learns how to swim on his own.

3 Safety Activities for Adults to Know & Practice

1. Your “Emergency Action Plan”: Reach, Throw, Go: In an Emergency (a problem that requires someones help RIGHT NOW) it is always important that the adult in charge remains calm and puts into place their “Emergency Action Plan.” The Reach, Throw, Go chant reminds you to keep your safety in account first; a drowning victim cannot be helped by someone who immediately jumps into the water without thought as to their own safety and the safety of others around. First, evaluate to see if you can help the person by Reaching out your arm or an object to pull them to the side. If you cannot reach them from your location, evaluate to see if you can Throw something for them to grab ahold of and pull them to the side. Lastly, if they person is out of reach, you Go in after them. For your safety and theirs, it is best to grab some type of floating device to place in between you and the victim that will help you bring them back to the side of the pool (or lake, etc.).

2. Whistle and Count: This is the safety action of most community pools, but can be used at a home or private pool when there are several children swimming and playing in the pool. Begin, by simply informing the swimmers that whenever they hear a whistle blow, they are to swim to the side of the pool and stop. This allows the acting “lifeguard” to perform a head count quickly to make sure everyone is accounted for. This is a great idea for birthday/holiday parties at a home pool, where the feeling is more relaxed, yet the safety is sometimes even more dangerous.

3. CPR & First Aid Training: All parents should be trained in CPR and First Aid. The benefits of CPR & First Aid Training is much greater than just for Summer swimming, it may be difference between life and death for anyone from a stranger to your very own child. American Red Cross and American Heart Association both offer certification and classes. Many hospitals have classes offered to parents and even families. If you do not have CPR and First Aid Training, ask your boss or human resource manager at work if they would cover these classes for you. If you are self-employed or work at home you are strongly encouraged to sign up today for classes near you.