There is no getting around the fact that swimming pools can be dangerous for children. Young children are drawn to water, so if you have a pool and a young child, you have to be especially careful. You should know all the safety precautions and practice them.
Layers of Protection
The best preventive method is not to have a pool at all until your youngest child is 5 years old. But, if you already have a pool, the best you can do is to have layers of protection, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. This means placing barriers around your pool, using a pool alarm and always supervising your child when she is in the pool.
Put a fence around your pool that is at least 4 feet high. The fence needs to surround your pool. Vertical slats should be less than 4 inches apart so that your child cannot squeeze through. The latch on the entry gate should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch needs to be high enough that your child cannot reach it. An alarm can alert you in case your child gets into the pool area despite the fence. One idea is to use an underwater pool alarm with remote receivers that you can hear inside the house. Remove all toys from the pool when you are done swimming so your children won’t be tempted to reach for them.
Have rescue equipment, such as a shepherd’s hook or a life preserver, near the pool in case your child does fall in. You should also know CPR. You can sign up for a class at your local hospital, community center or with the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association. If your child is missing, the first place you should look is the pool. Every second counts when trying to save your child from drowning.
Once your child is a 1-year-old, you can enroll him in swimming lessons. If you heard that the American Academy of Pediatrics says to wait until your child is 4 years old to start swimming lessons, that is because those were the old guidelines that the AAP revised, as of 2010. Giving swimming lessons to children after the age of 1 year may decrease drowning. Never rely only on inflatable swimming aids because they can lose air and will not keep your child safe if they do.
Once your child is older and can swim, instruct him about diving safety. No one should ever dive into an above-ground pool. Diving from the side of an in-ground pool is not safe, either. If your pool has a diving board, that is the only safe place from which to dive. Diving injuries can result in paralysis if divers hit the bottom or side of the pool.