Home Swimming Pool Safety
Time spent around the swimming pool with friends and family can turn into some of our most treasured memories and shared moments. With some basic safety precautions, we can reduce the likelihood of those memories being anything other than positive.
Swimming can be a great form of exercise as well as relaxation and enjoyment; but it can just as easily turn to tragedy. The chance of death or injury increases when safety preparations are not taken and when basic pool rules are not followed.
In America, an average of 10 people die from unintentional drowning each day, while there are thousands of pool-related injuries every year.
Unlike in many movies, drowning victims actually make very little sound or movement. Thus, it is important to always be aware and alert when anyone is in the water or has the potential to enter it.
- CDC: Water injuries fact sheet
- Indiana State Department of Health: Public swimming pool and spa program
- Virginia Department of Health: Drowning and swimming related injuries
In this article, we will be discussing several areas that should be focused on when working on pool safety:
- Pool rules
- Fences and gates
- Hygiene and pool cleaning
- CPR and first aid
- Swimming lessons
- Sun protection
Safety for Young Children
According to the CDC, approximately one in five people who die from drowning in the United States are children under 15. Home pool safety is absolutely essential when there are younger children living or visiting the house or neighborhood.
CPR and First Aid
If you have young children in your home, consider taking a pediatric first aid course. Small children have different needs than adults in a medical emergency, including differences in how CPR should be administered. Knowing what to do in an emergency can lead to a much better prognosis for an injured child.
Supervision and Safety Barriers
Small children should be supervised at all times when playing in the pool or in an area that has one. Do not rely on life jackets or floatation devices to prevent injuries or drowning.
Children can move extremely quickly, they may find ways pass under fences or around improperly secured gates or pool covers, and have can potentially drown if they gain access to a pool without supervision.
It is a good idea to make sure someone is always in charge of watching any children near a pool and that all locks, latches, gates, and covers are secured and childproofed when the pool is not in use.
- American Heart Association: Heartsaver pediatric
- United States Consumer Product Safety Commission: Safety barrier guidelines for residential pools
- North Carolina Health and Human Services: The burden of unintentional drowning among children
Swimming Safety for Teens and Young Adults
One of the best ways to prevent drowning (although it cannot replace supervision) is to learn how to swim safely in the water. Swimming lessons can help young adults learn how to kick, paddle, float, dive safely, hold their breath, and navigate the pool safely. Group swimming lessons are offered at many public pools as well as at summer camps and on school campuses. Private swimming lessons may also be available in your area.
Make rules clear and enforce them. Common pool rules include:
- No running
- Use a buddy system. No one should swim alone
- No swimming or being in the pool area while intoxicated or on medication that may cause dizziness or drowsiness
- No aggressive play
- No swimming without supervision
- Avoid swimming when tired or ill
- USA Swimming Foundation: Find swimming lessons
- Healthy Ohio: Leading causes of summer injury - Drowning
- Carrington College: Summertime swimming pool safety – Myth versus fact
Swimming Safety for Adults
If you don’t already know how to, it is never too late to learn how to swim. Adult swimming lessons are available at many universities, health clubs, and public pools. The lessons cover beginner as well as more advanced levels. You do not already need to have swimming skills to take advantage of many of these lessons.
Remember, most of the same rules apply to adults as they do to children and young adults. Swimming while impaired is not recommended, and neither is swimming without someone nearby.
Other things that you can do:
- Check around the pool for potential tripping hazards
- Make sure that there are no electrical hazards
- Make sure that the right types and amounts of pool chemicals are being used
- Ensure that all guests are following basic pool safety rules
- Electrical Safety Foundation International: Pool and spa safety
- American Red Cross: Adult swim lessons
- University of Arizona Health Sciences: Pool chemicals: The overlooked side of swimming safety
Swimming Safety for Seniors
With just a few simple precautions, we can enjoy the health benefits of swimming throughout our lifetime.
Keeping the pool clean and free of contaminants as well as bacteria is important, especially for young children and elderly swimmers. Make sure that the pool is skimmed regularly, that pool chemical levels are maintained, that the pool is cleaned regularly, and that a working filtration system is in place.
Other things that you can do:
- Don’t forget to apply sunscreen
- Have a shady area to get out of the heat
- Stay hydrated. Make sure that drinking water is readily available near the pool
- Have a phone and first aid kit nearby in case of emergencies
- Be careful on slippery surfaces
- Use railings and other safety features when available
- Use a hat to help protect yourself from the sun
- Get out of the water and alert someone if you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or nauseous; or if you experience pain
- Test to make sure the water isn’t too hot or too cold before entering
- Safe Senior Foundation: Swimming pool safety for seniors
- The University of Texas Education Magazine: Making waves: The benefits of swimming on aging populations
- Parenting Science: Swimming pools and health risks
Learning CPR is essential if you have a home pool. The University of Washington has a Quick CPR guide to get you started.
Maintaining your pool and eliminating pathogens will help with a safe, healthy, and fun swimming experience. The National Institute of Technology has a Swimming pool maintenance guide.
Swimming pool fencing is both essential and mandated by law in many areas. What Works for Health has an article on Swimming pool fencing.
Learn what drowning looks like. It could save a life! Harvard has an article, Five things parents need to know about drowning.