I remember when my sister had a pool party and my daughter was 2 years old. My daughter was being watched by me, and the pool was crowded with 20 or more people, big floats and toys. My daughter had her floaters on and was having fun. Well, my cousin’s son Douglas who was 3 years old entered the pool with no life vest or floaters. There was so much activity and fun happening that he entered unnoticed. I turned my head for a few seconds to speak with a relative and when Douglas entered the pool he immediately went under. No cry for help, no one heard him. He was silent. Douglas grabbed onto my daughter to save himself and he pulled her under with him. This was all happening while I was supervising and there were more than 20 people (many of which were adults) in the pool. It was the perfect storm.
A big float drifted in front of them and they couldn’t be seen. So now they were both under the water, silent, and no screams for help and there were adults, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all around them, some within arm’s reach. They were drowning and no one knew. I scanned the pool and couldn’t find my daughter Alexa. So frantically, I searched around the pool, looking for her in the sea of waves, laughs, and games. I got to the other side of the big float and then I saw Alexa and Douglas, under the water, drowning right in front of me and their entire family.
She had her floaters on, but she and the floaters were completely submerged under the water. I jumped in without thought and grabbed Alexa and Douglas. They were fine, it turned out I was just in the nick of time, and it was within seconds of this happening I pulled them out of the water and put their little feet on solid ground.
The most astonishing thing to me was because they were safe and I got them, it was OK. Everyone immediately went back to having fun. For me it was life changing, right then I knew that my eagle eye, my fatherly instinct of protecting my daughter was not enough. I turned my attention for a few moments, and the worst nightmare any parent could go through could’ve happened to me and my family. SUPERVISION CAN AND DOES FAIL! Drowning is a silent death with no cry for help. Thank God it didn’t happen to me.
Now I have my rules and it’s all about safety.
When planning a pool party for our children, we tend to put more focus on the fun and games of the party. Any successful event is an event without accident or injury. Pool safety should be our first priority when owning a pool or when planning a swimming pool themed event for our children. Our guests will feel more at ease and more comfortable when we have instituted layers of protection. We need to come as close as possible to a fail-safe system of preventing drowning and near drowning incidents.
THERE IS NO COMPROMISE WHEN IT COMES TO POOL SAFETY. WE ARE DEALING WITH A LIFE AND DEATH SITUATION.
Have a set of Pool Rules.
We all have tendencies to give a little leeway on rules with our children. But with a pool, our rules must be definite and our children must abide by them.
Supervision is our first and most important layer in our rules. When having a party share the responsibility with other parents and adults attending. Get a whistle and a timer, set the timer for 20-30 minute intervals and put the whistle in the hand of the adult in charge of supervising for that time period. What the whistle does more than anything else, is it becomes a reminder for the entire time period that you are the Life Guard, it’s your job, you cannot be focused on anything else whatsoever at all. It also gives everyone a chance to have fun knowing that there is someone doing nothing else other than supervising the activities in and around the pool. Your guests must understand that for that time period, the person supervising cannot be distracted.
When having a pool party, sometimes the pool can get a bit crowded. You may have older kids jumping in the pool and creating waves. If there are younger ones in floats or swimmies these waves could cause them to take on the water. Just like a blow-up bouncer for a party, we never let older kids and toddlers in the bouncy at the same time. Why? Because we don’t want our little kids to get hurt. It is the same idea when it comes to a pool but 1 million times worse. We need to keep horseplay to a minimum and to separate the pool time for older kids and toddlers.
Don’t allow for any circumstance an adult to take a child into the pool without a life vest. This gives the toddler a false sense of security. It says that it’s ok to go in without a life vest. Maybe their older brother or sister isn’t wearing one because they are a strong swimmer, they’re fine and they’re having fun. The toddler figures their having fun it must OK. We tend to get more involved in the fun rather than focus on the apparent danger.
If you owned a boat and got stopped by the Coast Guard, and they did a check of your boat. They would first make sure that you have enough life vests to accommodate all your guests on that boat. When you have a pool party, wouldn’t be wise to have life vests for at least your young guests on hand? Swimming pools are a leading cause of child drownings and yet we never think about what we could do to make our pools safer. You would never leave a loaded gun on a coffee table in your house, especially with children around. Then why would we have an unprotected swimming pool around our kids? The outcome of both is the same and there really is no difference. It’s just a matter of time until that gun goes off.
Safety is all about planning and getting as close as possible to that fail safe system. Have as many layers of protection as possible when you own a pool. Have a definitive set of pool rules, where there is no leeway only your way. Be a dictator when it comes to those rules. Lives depend on it.
For more information visit: http://www.poolfenceny.com/swimming-pool-safety/.