Summer just wouldn't be summer without relaxing by the pool and throwing pool parties.
But pools present many safety concerns, especially for children. Here are seven ways to keep summer pool time safe, according to John Drengenberg, consumer safety director at UL, the safety consultation and certification company.
1. KIDS NEED ADULT SUPERVISION
Designate an adult to be in charge of watching kids in the pool. And no, leaving them with older kids does not count. "The teenagers — they're playing too," Drengenberg said. Drowning is often a quick and silent death. The adult watching the kids should practice the 10/20 rule: Scan the pool every 10 seconds while stationed close enough to get to a child in distress within 20 seconds if needed.
2. THERE'S NO SUBSTITUTE FOR SAFETY DEVICES
Kids (or adults) can fall off pool floats. And inflatable "water wings" can puncture and deflate. "Those are not safety devices," Drengenberg said. Instead, purchase life jackets and replace them when they become worn or torn, or no longer fit: "What worked last summer might not work this summer," he said.
3. KEEP A PHONE FULLY CHARGED — AND HANDY — BY THE POOL
If someone needs medical attention for drowning or another accident, having a phone handy means no wasted time running to the house to find it. Posting the home's address in an obvious spot can also help a guest who may be handling the call to an emergency operator.
4. EMPTY KIDDIE POOLS
Small children can easily drown in shallow water because they do not have the upper body strength to pull themselves up as adults do. Leaving a kiddie pool full of water in the backyard makes falling in and drowning easy.
5. INSTALL A FENCE AND A GATE AROUND LARGER POOLS
Some places require that pools have these, so it's best to check local regulations. But even if it is not required, a fence with a gate makes it harder for small children to gain access to a pool unsupervised. And keep fences cleared of anything — such as stacked lawn chairs — that a determined kid can climb on to get over the fence.
6. WATCH THE ALCOHOL
Pool parties and cook-outs often involve drinking. And excessive drinking can contribute to a drowning in a host of ways, including a failure to keep a watchful eye on little ones.
7. CURB THE HORSEPLAY
Your parents probably taught you this one way back when. Diving and showing off with a cannonball or a backflip can be dangerous for less-experienced swimmers — or the people around them. Best to leave it to the professionals.