Pool Safety Tips From The ExpertsBeth Anne Ballance
It’s that time, friends!
Pull out the popsicles, rub on the sunscreen, and fill the pool with water – summer 2012 is upon us!
I grew up going to the pool every day in the summer months. We lived there for fun and also participated in the swim team – I started swimming competitively when I was five years old! So it’s not a surprise that I’m a certified lifeguard and swim instructor. I spent an entire summer in the mountains teaching girls ages 7-16 how to pull through the water, dive, and improve their stroke. Both of my older brothers are also certified, as well as proficient in a kayak (I’m more of a raft and canoe girl). We had Harrison in swim lessons by six months old. Needless to say, we are an aquatic family.
Not every parent has this background though, so I thought I’d share some pool safety that everyone can do, Red Cross certification or not:
1) The biggest thing is to be confident in the water but still respect it’s power. Even as a trained swimmer and rescuer, I NEVER swim alone. Always use the buddy system and in my personal experience, it’s best to keep your eye on 3-4 kids in the water at a time max if you’re not professionally trained.
2) Get to swim class, stat! Six months isn’t too young as a way to introduce a baby to water – Harrison is absolutely comfortable knowing that he can resurface if he goes under, so he doesn’t panic. Classes are also very great bonding time and they’re a ton of fun, too! Most local rec clubs offer them at a very reasonable price (our six week class was $35).
3) Learn how to “sweep” with your eyes and continuously count. If you’re watching more than one child, sweep your eyes over the children in a pattern and count them in your head. Say you’re sitting in your lawn chair sunbathing while your four kiddos swim – make sure you can always count four of them. When we go to the beach as a family, I always take stock of who’s in the water – my husband, child, brother, sister-in-law – and repeatedly sweep with my eyes counting “one, two, three, four.”
4) If someone does get into trouble, NEVER DIVE IN TO SAVE THEM. Grab a flotation device near you and either slide into the water or jump in with your legs spread wide in a split, then scissor them together fast once they are under water. (this takes a lot of practice, for what it’s worth) The point is to keep your head above water and your eyes on the child in front of you so that if they go under, you know where to look.
As always, use sunscreen and common sense, get out if it’s lightning or thundering, and have a great time!
Neurotic lifeguard BA