Last weekend there were several drownings in the Northern Virginia/DC Metro area and I don't want to see anymore. Now that school is out and the pools are open, it is critical that we all remember pool safety rules. I was a lifeguard growing up, and I find that to be one summer job I just cannot let go! Some of these rules are obvious, but some are ones that I think don't get enough attention. Most of these rules pertain to private pools. Always respect all of the rules of your public pool--they are there for a reason!
- Teach Your Kids to Swim!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Even if you are not a strong swimmer, make sure that they are. Group and private lessons are available at local pools and recreation centers (and you often do not need to be a member). A less expensive option is to hire a teenager who coaches the swim team or a local lifeguard. These kids have to be strong swimmers. Make sure that they teach your child AT LEAST how to float, how to kick to the side, how to dead-man float and how to hold their breath under water. Once they know these things, swimming won't be far behind. I highly recommend putting your child on swim team for a year or two to really build their skills!
- NEVER leave your children alone in a pool. For older kids (strong swimmers only) use the buddy system at a pool with no lifeguards. My kids have always wanted a backyard pool and we will never have one because of this rule...it only takes a second for a child (or an adult for that matter) to drown.
- Know the Depth Before you Dive In If the pool is less than 11 feet, diving is not appropriate (or safe)
- Slather with Sunscreen Besides the threat of skin cancer from stronger sun-rays, a sun-burn can sideline you for days. Make sure your children understand how important re-application is to prevention. My son just finished a week of being inside because he did not reapply sunscreen after I dropped him off at the pool!
- Keep Unused Floats in the Pool to a Minimum If your child were to sink to the bottom of a pool, you would need to get to them immediately. Random floats impede your view of the bottom of the pool and make it hard to see the bottom.
- Don't take a Chance with Lightning If you hear Thunder, get out of the pool. Why wait until you see the lightning? What if your first sighting is of the lightning bolt hitting the water? Make sure you wait 30 minutes after the last Thunder is heard.
- Keep the Music Down Pools, sun and good tunes go together...just make sure you can hear the swimmers in case one calls for help
- Watch the Teenagers! Once they become teenagers they think they know everything...they can still drown! Make sure they understand what kind of jumping and diving is appropriate in what water depths and keep an eye on them! Water wrestling is a frequent, and often dangerous, activity.
Have a wonderful summer, but don't let your fun get in the way of keeping everyone safe!
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