In the many years that I have absolutely lived for swimming pools, both using them and promoting them, swimming pool safety has always been at the very forefront of my mind. Whilst UK drowning statistics are at an all time low, accidents and emergencies can happen in a split second. The idea that a pool, a source of fitness, fun and family happiness, could quickly become a grizzly scene of tragedy is one that as a pool salesman, I need to address to try and make sure it doesn’t happen.
In 2014, the UK saw 302 suspected accidental water related deaths. Of those, just 13 were in a swimming pool. 1 from walking/running, 6 from swimming itself and 6 from waterside activities or in water play. Of these 13, 3 were under 4 years old. 3 too many, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Whilst it’s still incredibly sad to see any fatalities regardless of age, it is good that this figure is still relatively low. These figures are indeed the lowest since records began in 1983. In general, swimming pools are indeed very safe places to enjoy, but we still can’t be too careful.
Let’s look at our 10-point plan to help ensure the safety of those using your pool, especially children.
1 – Install a Fence
If you have open water in your garden, the first thing to consider is that the area is cordoned off and safe. Whilst you should always be on hand to supervise whilst kids are swimming, there may be times when they are just running around the garden. Let’s say a stray ball lands in the pool, just inches from the edge; that’s easy enough to pick up, right? Well, that might be the train of thought for a little one. With a good fence in place, this stops any accidents happening; the pool is accessed when you say it is and when you are on hand to supervise.
We recommend the Plastica Rollaway safety fence, which is strong yet lightweight and easily rolls back when stored during pool use.
A pool alarm can mean the difference between life and death. Tragedies happen quickly and every second counts. The alarm works by sensors detecting the characteristics of a body falling in to the pool, which sets off a powerful alarm with a 100db siren (equivalent to a speeding express train or pneumatic drill). The alarm fits easily to the edge of in-ground, semi-in-ground or above ground pools and won’t be set off by natural elements like wind.
We recommend the Immerstar Pool Alarm.
Once your pool is secured, it is imperative to have some decent life saving equipment around the pool. This extends further than the obvious elements, such as life rings and armbands. A good ladder will help adults and children alike to get in and out of a pool safely. Adding to this, a pool cover can prevent accidental falls, whilst also keeping your pool clean and warm.
4 – Educate about Eating and drinking
We’ve all heard the old wives tale about not swimming after eating due to a risk of cramp. This, in truth, can be still be considered to be an old wives tale, however we would recommend that it is good habit to wait a while after eating before going for a swim. There is little research to suggest that swimming after eating actually causes cramps. However, after a meal the digestive system will draw blood from around the body to aid with the digestive process. This can mean that there is less blood in the muscles, meaning less oxygen and therefore the potential for the muscles not to operate quite as they should.
Whilst there is not a great deal of research, strenuous exercise or excitement can lead to stomach pains or uncomfortableness following a meal. It is worth waiting a bit before jumping in, just to be on the safe side.
As for drinking, I am aiming this one at the adults. We all love the idea of kicking back by the pool, BBQ on, alcoholic drink in hand. When kids are at play though, always make sure someone is sober and on hand.
5 – Get First Aid training
For adults and children alike, knowing what to do in the aftermath of an accident can be vital; from simple first aid, to CPR, seconds count. There are a good few organisations that offer lessons, and it will be something that will stay with your children for life. A day out of a weekend to take a life saving course may just end up saving a life one day.
For courses in your local schools, try: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/nation-of-lifesavers/call-push-rescue/schools
St John’s Ambulance training courses: https://www.sja.org.uk/sja/training-courses/courses-for-the-general-public.aspx
Red Cross First Aid Course: http://www.redcrossfirstaidtraining.co.uk/Courses/First-aid-public-courses/First-aid-for-baby-and-child.aspx
6 – Get swimming lessons
If your little ones don’t already swim, as a pool owner, swimming lessons would be a great idea. This will help them develop physically and socially as well as give them the strength and tools to enjoy your home pool to the max. If your child is taking swimming lessons, make sure that you are always within reaching distance when they are in the pool, as well as providing them with things like armbands and floats.
Swimming lessons can be found at most local swimming pools/health clubs.
7 – No running
We now get into the ‘Poolside rules’, and for these you may want to display a poolside safety poster. For an adult, ‘no running’ seems like a pretty obvious rule. The floor is wet and hard and slips will happen. As an excited child, this rule will be in one ear and out the other. It is your responsibility as an adult to enforce this rule to make sure no one comes a cropper and slips over.
8 – No diving
This one really depends on your pool; its size and depth etc. Pools can seem a lot deeper than they are, you’d be surprised how easy it is for something to dive in and hit their head on the bottom. The average garden pool will not be equipped for diving, so make sure safety signs are displayed as appropriate. For guests of any age attending your pool, make sure they too are made aware that diving is not allowed, or restricted to a certain area of the pool if deep enough.
If you are lucky enough to have a deep and big enough pool, check out our pool slides and diving boards here.
9 – No showing off
This might sound daft, but it encompasses running, diving and any other silly behaviour that might occur in the heat of the moment. In a way, it’s a slightly sad rule. Kids love the attention of their parents and their friends as they jump, splash and challenge themselves to new and interesting way to enter the pool. The truth is, accidents can generally be avoided. If the pool is respected and used properly then it will be a safe and fun environment for everyone.
10 – Supervision
Supervision is last, but by absolutely no means least. Never, ever allow children to swim unsupervised. Things can go wrong very quickly, it could just be a case of popping inside to answer the phone or to refresh your drink, but if you’re not there things can go wrong. Whether it just be an accident, or a ‘the responsible adult is away, let’s do backflips!’ type scenario, you cannot turn your back for a second.
So to summarise this blog, swimming pools are fun and from last year’s figures, they are pretty safe too. Let’s not let these figures get any worse, let’s make them even safer. By following these simple rules and making sure your pool is the safest environment possible, you’ll enjoy your pool even more knowing that your family and friends are safe and having fun.