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10 Important Pool Safety Tips For Parents

A water safety expert explains the rules every adult should know and follow.

“Swimming is awesome. It’s fun. It’s restorative. [Water is great] but it needs to be respected for its potential danger,” says William Ramos, associate director of Indiana University Aquatics Institute. Read on for his top tips.

Over 80% of drownings happen at home pools. “Unauthorized access is by far the biggest contributor to fatal and non-fatal drownings at home pools,” Ramos says. Check to make sure all entries from the house to the pool (even doggy doors and sliding doors) can be secured.Kymberlie Dozois Photography/Image Source/Getty Images

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A locked fence around the pool (not just the yard) is key. “We're heading back into our pools and the lock that used to keep your 3-year-old child out may not keep the 4-year-old child out. Check your barriers, make sure they’re still age-appropriate,” Ramos says.

Consider taking a water safety course. Ramos recommends the American Red Cross parent/caregiver water safety education course which is online and totally free.
“Understand that supervision in an aquatic environment is high-level supervision. It’s not what a parent or guardian normally thinks of,” Ramos says. Scarily enough, it can take less than 20 seconds for a drowning to occur, which is as long as one Instagram scroll or trip inside.Priscilla Gragg/Aurora Open/Getty Images
When there are a lot of adults around, it can be easy to think that someone else is watching the pool. This water watcher card from Safe Kids makes it very clear who’s on duty so they don’t run inside, look at their phone, or check on a non-swimming kid.Courtesy of Safe Kids Water Watcher Program
Remember that any amount of water can be dangerous. Close supervision is still a must if your child is playing in a kiddie pool with a few inches of water or even with a hose, sprinkler, or bucket. Morten Falch Sortland/Getty Images
Be mindful of your kids’ floaties. “If it’s not Coast Guard-approved, it shouldn’t be counted on as a life-saving device,” Ramos says. The CDC actually does not recommend water wings and instead suggests life jackets.Shutterstock
Every home pool should have a ring buoy with lifeline and a reaching pole which can be thrown to a kid in distress. Sometimes a “person who goes to make a rescue can end up being a victim themselves,” Ramos says, adding that it's usually safest to throw something first.Shutterstock
Act like you’re on a day trip to the public pool, even if you're just going to the yard. “Take all your towels, your sunscreen, your snacks,” Ramos says. This way, you won't need to run inside or leave kids unsupervised, which is never okay, even for a minute.Shutterstock
Encourage your kid to be open and honest about their swimming abilities, and if they’re going to a pool where you won’t be present (like at camp or a birthday party) make sure you communicate your child’s ability to the adults who will be there.Sam Panthaky/ AFP/Getty Images
There’s a lifeguard shortage this year affecting up to one third of U.S. pools. However, if you’re having a pool party, and you’re able to find one, “hiring a lifeguard would be an exceptional way to help provide safety,” Ramos says.Shutterstock
Looking for more resources? Ramos suggest checking out The Zac Foundation, Water Watcher Safety, and The Red Cross Water Safety site for more helpful pool safety tips for parents. Shutterstock