Water and pool safety is important year round but with summer fast approaching and hot days spent cooling down at the pool drowning risk increases greatly. So when Kaitlin from An Apple Per Day asked to contribute a guest post on toddler safety around water, I dutifully took her up on the offer.
I say duty because I live in stifling Phoenix where temperatures soar past 110 degrees from June through September, pretty much every home has a pool, and if it doesn’t the house next door does. Drownings and near drownings happen all to often in my neck of the woods and it is truly gut wrenching to hear of these tragedies on the news – especially when they can be so easily prevented.
Some of these tips seem so very basic but these terrible occurrences continue to happen. I hope if you have a child you will read this, even if you don’t have a pool, it’s great information.
Thank you Kaitlin for writing this piece for Yay Baby! blog. I have a pool and a toddler and I never even knew underwater motion sensors were an option, I am definitely looking into them.
I’ll never forget the time I watched a two-year old accidentally fall into the pool at a fancy employee party at my boss’s residence. The parents were less than ten feet away, but a co-worker was much closer—three-piece suit and all—and dropped right in after him. He literally had their son in his arms in less than five seconds. The parents were horrified, mortified, grateful, and would soon be the proud new owners of a dry cleaning bill. But their son was safe and no harm was done. In fact, they would have been able to easily rescue their son…but still. It was frightening to watch.
How do we keep our toddlers safe in and around a pool? To use a business phrase, adjusted for this post, it’s pretty simple: supervision, supervision, supervision. But let’s face it: In a split second, accidents can happen. In the brief moment during which the boy’s parents looked away just long enough to make introductions to someone, the boy made a beeline, toddler style, straight to the pool and simply stepped in.
The bottom line is that nothing replaces good old fashioned supervision. But there are safety nets, so to speak, which can reduce the chances of tragedy striking. These are called “layers of protection,” and anyone with a backyard pool should become acquainted with them. Here are just a few. A search of the Internet will turn up many, many more.
1. Pool perimeter fencing. This is a fairly simple concept: If your child is within the boundaries of the pool, he or she is never left unattended. If you must leave for any reason, even to move the sprinkler, in full view of the pool, the toddler comes with you. No exceptions. This goes for babysitters, older siblings, or anyone in charge of supervising. Pool perimeter fencing should be foolproof: Be sure there are no planter boxes or lawn furniture next to the fence that would serve as a makeshift ladder and pathway to the pool. Kids, even toddlers are clever and resourceful.
2. Door alarms: It may seem like overkill, but anyone with toddlers knows how fast they move. It is still possible to have sliding doors open in the summer by simply installing the alarms on exterior sliding screen doors. Again, make no exceptions to the rule. All doors must have alarms. You must get into the habit of using them as diligently as you use the lock on your front door every night before bed.
3. Underwater motion sensors: As much as we don’t want to think about it, drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in the U.S. for children age 14 and younger. Smaller children, including babies and toddlers, can slip into the pool without a sound or splash. The increasing popularity of motion sensors that detect underwater movement is growing rapidly, and technology is improving all the time. Best of all, reliable, highly-rated units are becoming increasingly affordable.
4. Rules Gone Wild. Keeping toddlers safe in and around a backyard pool isn’t just about the risk of drowning. I can still hear my mom yelling, “No running!” Remind your kids that rules don’t just save lives; they also prevent stitches, sprains, fractures and painful bruises. Hand in hand with old fashioned, enforced rules is a first-aid kit near the pool at all times. Supervising adults should be able to attend to minor bumps and cuts without leaving the pool area to run inside for supplies. Lastly, don’t forget the sunscreen: First degree burns happen fast, and toddlers can’t apply sunscreen by themselves. Remember: Sunscreen should be reapplied every hour for maximum protection.
Remember, the safer they stay, the longer they play!
Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She is married to her best friend and lives in Pennsylvania. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking, biking and enjoy nature. She just started her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle.