With so many families sheltering in place and looking for outdoor activities, backyard swimming pools offer cool relief on a hot day. But without proper safety measures, they can also be a drowning danger zone and a potential COVID-19 catastrophe waiting to happen. With stay at home orders in place across the country, it’s very easy to become distracted somewhere else in the home while children are out swimming, which can put lives at risk. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 – 4 and most of these drownings occur in backyard swimming pools. Having a safety plan in place is as important now, in this time of social distancing, as ever.
Many think it could never happen to them, but the reality is that drowning is fast and often silent. In an effort to protect families from preventable drowning tragedies, British Swim School has launched Backyard Swimming Pool Patrol, a safety initiative including a Safe Swimmer Pledge and a Water Watcher Badge to prevent drownings through education and swimming pool safety awareness.
What is Backyard Swimming Pool Patrol?
“We created the Backyard Swimming Pool Patrol because right now there are no swim lessons or in-person CPR classes. With social distancing, there are fewer people around to watch the kids. Parents are stressed and multitasking, yet they must be more vigilant than ever to prevent backyard drownings,” says Melissa McGarvey, National Aquatics Director for British Swim School. “Whether it’s a kiddie pool filled with a mere foot of water, or an aboveground or underground pool, the backyard is a drowning danger zone, and parents must stay alert at all times.”
Safe Swimmer Pledge
Children say and sign the Safe Swimmer Pledge. In the pledge, children agree to:
- Never swim alone
- Never play or swim near drains or suction fittings
- Always dive in feet first
- Obey pool rules
Appoint a Water Watcher
- Water Watchers wear this badge and monitor children in or around the pool at all times.
- The Water Watcher can only leave if the pool is empty OR if they hand the badge to another person who has agreed to take on the job.
- A Water Watcher should be an older adult, not a teenage sibling or friend who might easily get distracted.
- The Water Watcher should not read, listen to music, or get distracted with a cell phone or screen. All eyes and ears on the kids always!
Install Proper Security
- Install a four-foot or taller fence around the pool and spa and use self-closing and self-launching gates. Ask neighbors to do the same.
- Install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near the water.
- Ensure pool and spa have compliant drain covers.
- Consider a surface wave or underwater alarm.
- Don’t use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
- Don’t leave objects, such as toys, around the pool that could attract a child.
- Don’t leave chairs or other furniture around a pool for kids to climb on and possibly fall in.
Water is great fun for kids, but it’s also a place where safety must come first. By following a few backyard swimming pool safety tips, you can create a safe place for your family to relax and play!