Until recently, home swimming pools across Sydney were abandoned in backyards, with even the thought of dipping a toe in the icy water sending shivers down everyone’s spine.
But now with the warmer weather here, home swimming pools are welcomed with open arms once again and Hills families will spend countless hours in and around the water with family and friends over the holidays. So now’s the time to reacquaint yourself with the usual pool surroundings and prepare for the many enjoyable days of swimming, splashing and socialising ahead!
Matt Griffiths from the Aquatic Safety Training Academy in Seven Hills provides his top 5 tips for keeping your family safe in home pools this summer.
Ensure the swimming pool gate is secure
The gate should be self-closing and self-latching so that it’s never accidentally left open for little ones to sneak through. If there seems to be a problem, replace the hinges or latch as soon as possible and keep children away from the area in the meantime to avoid any possible incidents. If you are visiting a friend or family member’s home and notice any issues with their pool gate, make sure the owner is aware of them!
Check and maintain your pool fence
The fence needs to be secure, at least 1.2 metres high and not contain any gaps or holes. Ensure that the panels are all in place and that there are no rusted, loose or missing screws. If anything seems out of order, ensure it’s repaired as soon as possible.
Keep the pool fence surroundings clear
Ensure that there are no possible opportunities for kids to climb over the fence. Remove any chairs, pot plants, ladders or barbecues that might have gravitated to the area over the cooler months, and trim any trees and shrubs alongside the fence. It’s a good idea to store away any pool toys and swimming aids after every swim so they’re out of view when not in use. You don’t want to tempt the kids by leaving them out when it’s not swimming time!
Supervision is key
Now that it’s warming up, set clear rules with the kids about using home swimming pools, whether it’s at your home or when visiting friends or family. They can never swim alone and always need a parent or carer actively supervising. They need to 100% understand that if you or another adult isn’t present, the pool is out of bounds.
When it IS swimming time, ensure that the person providing supervision is closely watching the kids in and around the water. If there are any young children under the age of five about, they should always be within arm’s reach. For older children, the supervisor needs to maintain constant visual contact at all times. That means putting the mobile phone away and saving that game of Candy Crush for another time!
If the adults are enjoying the water just as much as the kids, then there should always be an adult designated as the ‘child supervisor’ around the pool. Yes, you can do it in shifts if you’d like. If you are visiting friends or family members with a pool, make sure you are clear on who has been allocated this role. Don’t just assume. Alternatively, take it upon yourself to supervise if everyone else seems preoccupied.
While on the topic of entertaining, alcohol and swimming don’t mix. You should never swim under the influence so keep that in mind before agreeing to a game of water volleyball.
Be prepared in the case of an emergency
While we don’t like to think about it, scary incidents in and around the pool happen. If you are the pool owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your CPR and First Aid skills are up to date. However, even if you’re not a pool owner, it is highly beneficial to learn CPR if you expect to be around the water a lot this summer. The chance of survival increases significantly where a drowning casualty receives early CPR, so having the confidence and skills to save a life are vital. If it is your pool, make sure your home first aid kit is re-stocked in preparation for any cuts and scrapes that may occur.
If you need a resuscitation refresh, contact Royal Life Saving today to book a course on 9634 3700.
By following the tips above, you will create a safe water environment around your home pool to ensure many, many hours of water fun this summer!
And if you’re keen to ensure your kids are water aware, read Matt’s piece on this here.
Aquatic Safety Training Academy provides a broad and balanced swim school program that teaches a range of skills and knowledge to develop swimming, water safety, survival and basic rescue skills.
The Academy also runs free workshops for members and friends on topics including how to use swim play productively, using bath time for water familiarisation and CPR awareness.