Organising a pool party or inviting a few families around for a summer BBQ around the pool? Make it safe and avoid a drowning tragedy, by hiring a lifeguard. No matter how careful you are, it’s all too easy to lose track of children at a pool party. All it takes is a moment of distraction, or falling into the ‘group mentality’ that with so many adults around, someone else is watching the kids. Scarily, it’s entirely possible for the unthinkable to happen at a party – even with adults present. Here are some tips about how to keep everyone safe around water this summer…
Whenever people ask me why they need a lifeguard for a pool party, I ask them, “Which do you think is more effective? A group of parents at a pool party, socialising and half-watching their kids, or the trained eyes of a lifeguard with no other job than to watch the pool?”
Seen from this perspective, most people understand the benefit of having a lifeguard at their pool party. And to those who still don’t get it, I tell them this:
In 2018, Happy Swimmers lifeguards have performed 42 life-saving rescues at pool parties.
And that’s why we believe everyone should have a lifeguard at a pool party.
Top 10 Tips to keep kids safe around water
1. Don’t assume kids are automatically safe when wearing armbands or inflatable rings
Keep an eye on kids using flotation devices – they can easily slip out or flip over with the ring, especially if they’re jumping or horseplaying. At Happy Swimmers, we do not recommend the use of floaties or armbands as they can actually set kids back from natural swimming later on, by making them reliant on the buoyancy of the device rather than developing their own skills.
2. Watch toddlers like a hawk
They can slip off the steps in the shallow end and before you know it, they are in over their heads and at risk of drowning. Most pool party rescues and prevention involve toddlers in the shallow end steps.
3. Designate one adult to supervise
Designate one adult at a time, at intervals of no more than 20 minutes to watch the swimmers as a “deputised lifeguard,” and no socialising for them during that time. Better yet, hire a lifeguard especially for the pool party, with professional grade skills and CPR qualifications.
4. Don’t allow weak swimmers or non-swimmers in the deep end with noodles or kickboards
If a child isn’t comfortable in deep water, don’t let them go there, even with pool toys. If they panic, they will commonly grab the neck of another swimmer nearby and then both will need assistance.
5. Check the pool for danger
Before the party, check the pool area for sharp/pointy corners or slippery surfaces. Keep people away from them. Too often, guests can fall or slip and become injured.
6. Walk only!
Lifeguards commonly yell, “Walk!” at public pools, and there is a good reason for it. You don’t have to be harsh, but know that running/pushing around the pool often leads to slips and falls. Concussions and broken teeth can be a sad result of running or slipping.
7. Move pool furniture
Move chairs away from pool fence boundaries and think ahead for that seemingly benign hazard. Crafty children have been known to maneuver chairs to then crawl over pool fences.
8. Don’t drink and swim
Adults, no swimming under the influence. Most adult swim accidents happen when a swimmer has had too much to drink and did something foolish. Impaired adults may not know or notice when a child is in danger.
9. Use an “extension” rescue
If you witness someone in distress in a pool, either use a pole to pull them to the side or toss them a floatation device. Entering the water yourself as an untrained rescuer should always be a last resort except in the case of small children.
10. Be alert for drowning
Recognising drowning is critical, and that’s where trained experienced lifeguards really help. Ninety percent of good lifeguarding is preventing emergencies in the first place. Knowing what’s normal and who needs help is crucial. Gut instinct and staying aware is the lifeguard’s Jedi power, which properly used can saves lives.
Have a fun and safe summer by the pool!
Jenn Tyler is the founder and owner of Happy Swimmers Lifeguards for Hire, serving professional lifeguards for children’s’ pool parties and corporate events 27 years in America, now a first expanded season across Australia. Find more information on the Happy Swimmers website.