As the weather gets warm, millions of seasonal aquatic workers know that the time has come to prep those outdoor pools and break out the sunscreen. It’s time to talk about pool safety. You have probably seen or read about water safety. I am mostly focusing on pool parties, both in private residences and hosted at a local pool. Drowning usually happens quickly and silently—many children who drown in home pools were out of sight for less than 5 minutes and in the care of one or both parents at the time.
Safety should always be the top priority when planning, prepping, and getting sucked into Pinterest for hours of research. Be mindful of all the ideas out there because some of the really fun ones end up being more mess than anything. Trust me pool maintenance, your lifeguard, and that adult that offered to help clean up will all thank you.
Pool Party Safety Tips
A lot of my parents ask me when will my child know how not to drown? This is an impossible question to answer because no one is ever completely water safe. Every family needs to create safe habits around water. Start with simple habits when you’re children are infants. Such as to approach the water’s edge, pause (sitting or standing), and then tell your child to wait until you enter the water. If you have older children have them check the water to confirm no hazards. Once it’s safe to do so get in and have fun!
According to a national study of drowning-related incidents involving children, a parent or caregiver claimed to be supervising the child in nearly 9 out of 10 child drowning-related deaths. At any pool party a designated pool watcher is a must. It’s simpler at a public pool with lifeguards. At a private pool party talk to your family about who’s watching the kids and when. Establish a schedule so one person is not there the whole time. It is recommended no more than 45 minutes per person. If you are like my family, with two former lifeguards, you find you end up scanning together the whole time regardless. How can you tell a former lifeguard? They are the one yelling at kids everywhere to “walk please” and constantly scanning the body of water.
Make sure to take breaks. All the breaks; hydration breaks, bathroom breaks, dance breaks, you name it. If your child/children have been in the pool for more than an hour it’s a must. If you are hosting the party, make the break fun. I wasn’t joking about dance breaks, they are a great way to get kids out of the pool and taking a break. Looking for some great games? Check out this blog post with 5 Perfect Pool Games for Young Swimmers.
Safety Tips Around the Pool Deck
This is a big one that I really struggle with when I attend pool parties hosted at private residence: NO GLASS! Yes you may be able to hold that bottle but what happens when a wayward ball hits it and glass shatters everywhere including into the pool. Yeah, no one wants a shard of glass in the eye! Easiest way to kill a party mood. If you are hosting; bring out the fun plastic tiki cups or a good red solo cup.
There are SOOOOOOOOO many pool rules! NO matter if you are hosting or attending - learn the pool rules. Pick the top 5 rules to focus on and talk about them. Discuss ways to avoid the 'no fun police' (lifeguards or parents, depending on the pool) stopping the fun.
If you are attending and have concerns, don’t be afraid to ask. Is there a swim test required for swimmers to swim by themselves or in the deep end? Are life jackets available or should we bring our own? As a host, I make sure to have the conversation with parents and I also pay swim instructors I know to get in and play with the kids. Swim instructors help control the chaos in the pool.
Top 5 Kids Pool Party Essentials:
Even if I am hosting or attending these are my 5 must haves:
- Water bottles. I am not saying just one, oh no friend. We have one in the bag, one in the car for when we are done, and backups in the trunk. Set up a water filling station for guests and have personalized water bottles out as favors. Water is our friend!
- 2 sets of towels. Ok it may seem redundant but I allow my kid to have one towel for the ins and outs of the pool party. You can just see your child first in the pool now they are cold, out of the pool now they have to go to the bathroom, now they are hungry, etc. And then the second towel I pull out to let her know that mom is done, over the pool party and ready to go home.
- Whistle. Alright this seems overkill but I have used my spare lifeguard whistle more times outside of my workplace than in my different pools. I use it to call breaks for swimmers, to let my kid know I am not playing, or just to make a very loud announcement.
- Pool flip flops. These are specifically only worn at the pool on the pool deck. Think about your kid playing outside in the backyard with their everyday shoes, maybe you have a dog, now it’s time to go to the pool, and they are still wearing their everyday shoes. So yeah pool only flip flops.
- Protein snacks. I have 3: one before the pool a good 15-30 minutes before pool time. One in the middle of the party during one of the party/pool breaks. And finally one to feed the hangry small person that I swear was just laughing and smiling with her friends before I mentioned it was time to go.
Kellie Masters’ bio:Swim Instructor in Greater Seattle, WA
My name is Kellie Masters. I have worked in aquatics for over 20 years in many different capacities. I enjoy working with all ages and focusing on drowning prevention programming. I attended Central Washington University and received my Bachelor’s in Recreation Management specializing in aquatics. I recently finished my Master’s program from Western Kentucky University earning a degree in Sport and Recreation Management. The world of aquatics is an amazing industry and I love being a part of it.