Don’t wait until after the fact to establish safety rules when there is an accident. This applies as much to driving as to swimming in the family pool. You have to be proactive and take summer precautions. Some homeowners don’t realize what might happen. For example, if they do not have a sturdy fence, a stray animal or a child can enter the yard and decide to try out the pool or simply fall in. The consequences can be more than tragic if the young one doesn’t know how to swim and get out in the shallow end. Another good move is to let the neighbors know about pool safety and to prohibit their children from coming over to use your above ground pool when no adult is around. Make it clear that there is not an open invitation to swim. There must be a set date and time. You might assemble your own and the area kids and have a good talk about potential accidents. If you are really worried about drownings, you can sponsor classes—beginners’ swim lessons. It is a great way to head off problems. You can never be too careful about a backyard swimming pool. It is like a beacon to children. What child doesn’t love water recreation.
Another precaution you can take is to have little safety vests near the pool for the really young children who swim in your pool. You can mandate their use, even when an adult or two are around. Adults can get distracted. Don’t assume they don’t. They can be having a conversation, getting a snack on the patio, etc. This has happened in families. There is tremendous guilt and regret when accidents happen, even if they are not fatal.
Add to your precaution list the importance of the family adults having a lifesaving course. If a child has been underwater too long, for example, and has difficulty breathing, you will know what to do. Your older children, particularly teens, should be included. You don’t have to be an adult to save a life. You must stress urgency in regard to lifesaving and practice techniques regularly to remind everyone of the protocol. You can teach the younger children not to panic as it makes lifesaving difficult and hazardous. If the child in trouble relaxes, he or she can be brought to safety and breathing restoration techniques can be initiated.
I am sure you can come up with your own safety rules which include appropriate behavior while swimming. Children should be told they cannot rough house or indulge in boisterous play that is potentially dangerous. Never dunk another unsuspecting child as a prank. There are a million little things rambunctious kids do in a pool that have to be curbed. Remind kids about safety first. Let them internalize this dictum and they will also tell their visiting friends. It is especially important to be cautious when there are a lot of kids in the pool as you can miss seeing some activity. Keep your eyes open, parents.