Having a pool in the backyard is something many homeowners want, but when those same homeowners have young children, they have to pay even closer attention to pool safety. Toddlers are curious, and can run away from parents and babysitters faster than you may think. Unlike older children, they’re less able to understand a pool’s potential dangers. Take extra precautions with toddlers around and keep your pool the enjoyable retreat it’s always been.
Install Safety Fences
The first step to protecting the toddlers in your life is to install safety fences for your pool. Fences generally stand well above a toddler’s height, so there’s little chance of a small child climbing over. Locked gates make it simple for adults to access the pool as needed. Fences are a good idea regardless, as they’ll keep animals out of the pool area and they can properly delineate where an in-ground pool is, even under a blanket of snowfall.
Use a Pool Cover
Most pool owners realize the benefit of a pool cover in the winter, but when there are toddlers around, it’s a good idea to use a pool cover whenever the pool is not in use. There are various retractable models that are simple to set up and put away if you’re concerned about the time and effort involved in fastening a pool cover every night. Plus, you’ll have to clean less debris out of the pool. If an adult isn’t using the pool, it’s best to keep it covered on the off-chance you forget to lock the gate and a toddler wanders inside. The cover is your second line of defense.
Don’t Leave Toys Around the Pool
Toddlers don’t understand a pool can be dangerous; what they do understand, though, is toys. Children love picking up and playing with toys, so anything you leave by the poolside, including pool toys and inflatables, can be alluring to a small child. Put away all toys and store them in a shed or in the basement every time you finish swimming. Not only is it smarter to get the items out of the way so they’re no longer a tripping hazard, but a toddler is less likely to wander to the poolside if she doesn’t see fun things to play with there.
Stay in an Arm’s Length
An adult should alwaysbe in an arm’s length of the toddler at all times — especially when outdoors. The adult in charge of the toddler should be focused on him, ready to grab him the instant he scurries out of the safe area. If you’re not going to set up a pen in the backyard for your toddler to play in, be vigilant about stopping your young one before she strays too far.
Keep a Life Preserver Nearby
Even after all of your precautions, it takes only one forgetful and distracted moment for bad things to happen. Just in case, keep a life preserver near the pool, tucked out of the way so the toddler doesn’t confuse it for a toy, but still in easy reach.
If you’re swimming with the child nearby, she should have inflatable arm bands at all times, even if you don’t plan to let her in the water. An adult should also be close to her; take turns swimming if you all want a go, but don’t leave a toddler unattendedat the side of the pool.
Don’t confuse toddler pool safety with entirelykeeping toddlers out of the pool. As CNN reports, children as young as a year old can safely learn to swim,and they should get swimming lessons before they reach age 4. If you’ve got the pool tightly locked up for winter — and you should, especially with toddlers around — enroll your toddler in indoor swimming lessons from a licensed instructor. The sooner your child understands how to swim, the sooner you can enjoy the pool together as it’s meant to be enjoyed.
About the Author
Christy Browner is a swimming instructor and a mother of two young children.