Summer and especially summer holidays hold the promise of endless sunshine, fun and playing in the pool.
Although playing in the pool is the best of pastimes, all the fun and games can so easily come to an end; the swimming pool can be a dangerous place, even for accomplished swimmers, so it is essential that all involved are well-versed in pool safety.
We have put together our guide on how you can maximise the summer fun by minimising the potential for accidents and mishaps.
When swimming, sitters, parents and other caregivers must stay alert and vigilant at all times and should never leave kids alone in or near the water.
Sitters and parents should avoid potential distractions, like texting or reading, while at the pool. Drowning can happen really fast, in under two minutes, so it is essential to actively supervise children to ensure that you’re able to react quickly should something go wrong.
Make sure kids follow the pool safety rules you teach them, including: no running, no dunking and no diving in shallow water.
With younger children, it’s best to be in the pool with them and for older kids who have stronger swimming skills, make a habit of sitting at the edge of the pool when you’re not in the water so you can keep a close eye on the kids in your care.
Teach children to swim. Formal swimming lessons can help reduce the threat of drowning, especially for younger kids. Swim classes for all ages and stages are typically available year-round at local leisure centres and private swim clubs.
Learn first aid including CPR as administering CPR can save lives if drowning does occur.
Enclose home pools with proper fencing. For children under the age of 4, most drownings occur in home swimming pools. If the child in your care lives in a home with a pool, make sure they cannot access the pool without an adult
Remain vigilant when not swimming - when on holiday most child drownings occur on the first and last days of the holiday, when parents are busy unpacking and packing
Use life jackets when appropriate.Though most often associated with open water, children can use personal floatation devices like life jackets in pools as well. However, a life jacket is not a substitute for adult supervision and water toys like noodles, water wings and inflatable rafts do not prevent drowning
Watch out for dry drowning and secondary drowning which result in trouble breathing. Symptoms of dry drowning happen almost immediately, while secondary drowning can occur up to 24 hours later. Both are extremely rare, making up only 1 - 2 percent of all cases of drowning, however it’s worth seeking medical attention if you notice any problems after a child struggled in the pool or ingested a significant amount of pool water
Too much fun in the sun can lead to sunburns, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and dehydration. Take steps to make sure the kids in your care avoid these common summertime ailments
Apply (and reapply) sunscreen. For kids, choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30. You can go higher, but experts typically believe that anything over 30 doesn’t offer much additional protection. You do want to make sure that the sunscreen provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection and is water-resistant, fragrance-free and hypo- allergenic. Apply sunscreen before you head to the pool and generously reapply it every 30 minutes
Wear hats, sunglasses and cover-ups. Clothing offers protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Make sure kids have wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses. When out of the pool, have them wear cover-ups. You also can consider investing in swimwear that offers UV protection
Avoid swimming midday.The sun is strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Avoiding the pool during these hours can reduce the chance of sunburns and heat-related illness.
Keep kids hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help keep the body’s natural cooling system working
Recognise the signs of heat-related illness. Keep an eye out for signs of heat exhaustion, including an increase in thirst, weakness, fainting or dizziness, cramping, nausea, headache, increased sweating, clammy skin or a rise in body temperature. Heat exhaustion can quickly progress to heat stroke, which is far more serious. If a child shows signs of heat exhaustion, take him out of the sun immediately and into an air-conditioned space, remove excess clothing and hydrate. If the child’s symptoms include a severe headache, confusion, rapid breathing, loss of consciousness, a temperature over 105ºF, or flushed, hot, dry skin seek immediate medical care