It’s summer, and poolparties are a great way for kids to have fun, while staying cool. Sadly, with so many children drowning in backyard pools each year, it’s important that the pool party hosts set some ground rules early.
Kids love the water, but they don’t always think first and realise that their actions can have consequences. Before the party starts, sit them down and outline what they can and can’t do before they jump in the pool. It’s a great way to help prevent any accidents from occurring.
Some of the rules you may set down could include –
- No running and wait for an adult (a good rule for younger children)
- No running around the pool area (especially if you have a tiled or deck area)
- Don’t dive from the diving board until the child in front of you has swum safely to the other side of the pool
Give children a gentle reminder/warning if they do break a rule, and give them a time out from the pool if they do it again.
As adults you need to keep an eye on the pool at all times, it’s that momentary lapse of concentration, the lack of supervision which is one of the main reasons children drown. Of course, if your children are teenagers and everyone can swim give them some freedom, but it never hurts to check every now and then. Anyone under 7 needs to be supervised at all times.
If you are going to have a pool full of children running around and being in and out of the water, you need to have one adult at pool side the entire time. The person watching has to stay until someone takes their place, no books, no phones, it’s the only way to ensure a safe pool party.
In general, a good idea is to assign supervisors to watch the entire time in 15-20 minute *shifts*, the host parents are too busy and distracted serving food, organising games or socialising with other guests and parents – they can’t focus on watching the pool as well. One parent at least should know CPR, it does not matter if children are playing in deep or shallow water, and whether they are good, strong swimmers or not – accidents happen.
When swim time is over or breaking for food, account for each child and check the water first if you find a child is missing. Lock the gate so children can’t sneak back in and serve food or play games away from the pool.
Toys and games
To keep the excitement and fun going, swimming games and pool toys are great, just remember they must be suitable for the youngest swimmer in the pool. For younger kids why not organise a race where they have to swim around and collect floating balls. Older kids will enjoy *diving* for gold coins tossed in the pool. If your pool isn’t very deep and all the children can stand up, a game of *tag* or *it* are also fun.
Diving competitions, breath holding competitions and *wrestling* style games or competitions should be banned. Children can be flipped or thrown and if you have a concrete pool can be knocked unconscious.
In an emergency
It is very important that as a pool owner you have all the right safety equipment on hand. If a child does drown, or begin to drown, one adult should pull the child out of the water, while another calls000. It’s those few important seconds saved between pulling the child out of the water and the paramedics arriving that can mean all the difference between life and death.
Learn to swim
Teach your children to swim from an early age, especially if you have, or plan to install a pool. Instil in them that they should never swim alone. If your child doesn’t swim and has been invited to a pool party sign them up for swimming lessons so they will be ready for the next pool party. If your child can’t swim, don’t send them to a pool party, and if children attending your party can’t swim….. then they are not to get in the pool either. Playing it safe is the best way to ensure your pool party is safe and a success.