Welcome to another season of safe swimming and fun at A Water-Full Life! This is my third year writing water safety advice and tips for parents at Swimways.com. I’m really looking forward to this year because we’ve decided to change direction and head to the beach and beyond.
We know you won’t only be in the back yard pool and wanted to give you safety tips for all destinations. I’ll give you my best safety tips for trips to the beach; what to watch for in the surf and the sand. I’ll give you a checklist and good advice on how to take your family on boating adventures while on vacation. You’ll get my thoughts on parasailing, life jacket use, fishing trips, sun safety, and how to avoid and handle jelly fish and other things that sting. We’re even going to cover cruise ships and help you stay safe at sea.
We know that fun in the water is more than just backyard pools and this year we are going to help you and your family be safe no matter where you are this summer. And something else is new for this year’s blog – video! I’ll take you to the beach to show you a rip current develop; we’ll go on a charter boat and show you what you should know about those adventures; you’ll see me find out just how deep the water is even when it looks shallow!
So stay tuned right here to the Water-Full Life Blog. You’ll have fun and be safe wherever the water takes you.
Mario Vittone is a nationally recognized expert on water safety. His writing on aquatic risk and drowning prevention has appeared in magazines, websites, and newspapers around the world. Mario is a former Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Swimmer and instructor and has lectured on boating and water safety across the United States. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation. Mario’s Blog | Facebook Page
Pool safety doesn’t stop when the summer ends and the cover goes on. In order to protect your family, neighbors and pets, a few steps have to be taken. Follow these five helpful tips to guarantee a safe and accident-free off-season.
1. Invest in a Safety Fence
Fencing is actually a legal requirement in several states, so this one is a classic no-brainer. Having a secure perimeter fence with a lockable gate is the most important step one can take to secure a pool area, on or off-season. Legally, a pool owner may be liable for any person or even pet that suffers injury due to a pool that isn’t adequately fenced in.
Besides offering safety, proper pool fencing also acts as a barrier to debris, keeping leaves and other windblown objects away from your pool and its cover. While chain-link is the most cost-effective option, investing in attractive wood or vinyl fencing will add to the pool area’s beauty while offering protection.
2. Get a Safety Cover
There are pool covers, and then there are pool covers. While an inexpensive tarp may hold off debris and rainwater through the off-season, it won’t do so effectively. It also won’t be very safe. Any adult, child or large animal that accidentally finds themselves on the cover will almost certainly dislodge a tarp, even if it’s weighed down at the edges. This leaves the potential victim of tragedy submerged in cold water with dozens of square feet of tarp – not a pleasant scenario.
A secure, durable pool cover stretched taught and secured by ring bolts is the ideal protection for an inground pool. For above ground pools, safety covers are available, but the most imperative step is to make sure that the stairs leading to the pool be secured with a locked gate. A pool can be a dangerous place, and never more so than when the temperature is low and help is indoors. For that reason, pools should be kept firmly and securely covered.
3. Gate Alarms Are a Good Idea
Assuming the pool is secured by a perimeter fence, the gate must be one that can’t easily be bypassed by the unsuspecting. A self-locking gate is the best place to start, but for the extra measure of safety we recommend adding a gate alarm. These small, inexpensive alarms are installed onto the gate and emit a shrill sound when someone opens it. This serves as a warning to whoever enters the pool area while alerting anyone within hearing that someone is passing through the gate.
Pool gate alarms are particularly important for children, who are the least likely to understand the dangers of a closed pool, and pets, who may have no concept whatsoever of the hazard. The offensive sound will instinctively drive both away from the pool area, and bring the attention of any nearby adults.
4. Remove Electrical Equipment
If your pool area is equipped with electrical equipment such as lights, radios, or even the filtration system, some safety steps must be taken. Remove all wiring from the pool area for the duration of the off-season. Cover all outlets. Take away any electrical equipment that is portable, and store it for the winter. Any electrical equipment or wiring has the potential to become a fire hazard, especially when left unattended for an entire season.
5. Proper Communication
As always, the most powerful defense against any safety hazard is knowledge. As a pool owner, it is your responsibility to communicate to your family and neighbors the potential dangers of a closed pool. Talk to your children and their friends about pool hazards in the same way you’d warn them about crossing the street or talking to strangers.
Make sure that your neighbors know how dangerous a closed pool area can be to their children or pets if wandered into. If using a gate alarm, make your neighbors aware of what the sound indicates. They may be the ones coming to the rescue in your absence.
By following these simple steps, you can rest assured that your pool, your family, and your neighbors are safe year-round, and look forward without anxiety to the start of the season.
If you want to learn more about pool safety and DIY pool care, be sure to visit Swim Universityand enjoy a plethora of how-to videos, articles and online tools to help you take care of your swimming pool, both on and off-season.
Matt-Giovanisci is the creator of Swim University, a website that teaches homeowners how to take care of their pools and hot tubs by providing simple how-to articles, entertaining videos, and online tools. Matt started working in the pool and spa industry when he was just 13 years old at a local pool supply store in town. He quickly became a manager at age 16, running the store entirely by himself. Since then he’s worked at a few different pool and spa companies before focusing his full attention on Swim University. Swim University | YouTube Channel
Children hold hands as they gently splash in the water with their instructor
Children are gently guided around the water by their instructor
Children are gently guided around the water by their instructor
The newest swimmers wait for further instruction
The newest swimmers use life jackets and get lots of support from their instructor
With her brightly colored swim suit and equally sunny disposition, Leslie Paul stands poolside while she talks to the class about their upcoming lesson. Anxious to get started, the excited children quickly fall in line with their designated instructor and split off to different areas of the Windsor Oaks Pool for their third day of the week long swim training program. From the most timid of swimmers wearing fluorescent flotation devices, to confident splashers, each group is provided instruction based upon their level of comfort in the water.
Really Awesome People Swimming (RAPS) was founded by Leslie in 2007 after she found out about the high drowning rates amongst the minority population. The Hampton Roads, Virginia based organization teaches local children and teens who otherwise do not have the means to participate in swim lessons how to swim and to be safe while in, on or around the water. Leslie and her team of instructors passionately teach swimming and safety skills to children free of charge throughout the summer. Their goal is to ensure no child is left out when it comes to learning to swim due to lack of pool facilities, race or socioeconomic status.
Swimways Corp. supports Leslie and her team by donating swim training aids such as SwimWays water toys and pool noodles, and COOP waterproof balls and skateboard floats. In addition we also provide monetary support towards this worthy cause, enabling the RAPS team to ensure even more local children learn to swim.
Quick stats about RAPS:
346 children + 6 adults = 352 people served through the RAPS program in 2013
15 instructors with a combined total of 303 years of experience, and 1 lifeguard with 5 years of experience
Total number of people served through the RAPS program since 2007 = 1,315
Did you know?**
About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. Making it the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes.
Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2009, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from unintentional injury, more than 30% died from drowning.
Taking part in formal swimming lessons reduces the risk of drowning among children ages 1 to 4 years.
African-American children ages 5 to 14 drown at a rate nearly three times higher than their Caucasian peers.
Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male.
Here’s why parents (and kids!) love our Sea Squirts PFD
1. It’s US Coast Guard Approved.
The SwimWays Sea Squirts PFD is a US Coast Guard Certified Type III Personal Flotation Device just for kids. Buoyancy technology allows for successful balance of your child’s center of gravity, giving him or her greater control and stability in the water. Straps across the chest and between the legs ensure a snug fit, keeping the flotation aid in the correct position.
2. It’s comfortable.
The quality neoprene outer cover and inner fabric liner are extremely comfortable, offering freedom of movement and comfort for continuous wear in and around the water. The cute, flexible back fin is appealing to kids and naturally folds flat so they can sit comfortably in a boat or chair.
3. They want to wear it.
Sometimes they just don’t want to wear a flotation device; that’s where the Sea Squirts PFD with its flexible fish fin comes in. So suit ‘em up for added peace of mind and let their imaginations run wild!
The experts agree!
“The Sea Squirts PFD is simply the best flotation device on the market for a child” – Mario Vittone, former U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer and learn to swim expert.
What parents are saying:
We sent samples of our Sea Squirts PFD around the country to real parents, here’s what they had to say about it:
“Talon could not wait to hit the beach in his blue Sea Squirts PFD. Honestly; he spent the first two days wearing it around the house, chasing his sisters because he loved it so much! While he thinks he’s pretty cool with his fins, I’m happy to know he’s safe near the water!” – Stacey, thesimplemoms.com
“We bought a life jacket for him before our day trip to Destin, but he did not like it…it almost seemed like he felt he was being smothered in it. With the Sea Squirts life jacket, he has plenty of room around his neck to feel comfortable, while still keeping him safe.” – Lynn, thephotographerswife.com