Pools are great fun — especially for kids — but they can be dangerous, so good for you for thinking hard about safety. The most important piece of advice I can give: Regardless of your guppy’s level of comfort around water or any swimming classes she’s already taken, you should never, ever leave her alone in or near any body of water.
Here are other top pool-safety tips to keep little ones safe:
Fence it in. Whether you have a large inflatable pool, a freestanding above-ground pool, or an in-ground pool, make sure it’s surrounded by a four-sided fence that’s at least four feet high. Most accidents occur when a child wanders out of the house and falls into the pool so make sure the fence doesn’t have any openings that a young child could crawl under, over, or through. Opt for a pool gate that self-closes and self-latches (the latch should be well out of your child’s reach), and make sure to secure it (preferably with a lock) as soon as kids are done swimming.
Invest in rescue gear. Keep rescue equipment by the pool, including a shepherd’s hook (a long pole with a hook on the end), a life preserver, and a phone.
Keep your child within arm’s reach. The best way to keep little swimmers out of harm’s way is by practicing what the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls “touch supervision” — being close enough to reach out and touch your child at all times. Be sure to stay that close even after your tot has swim lessons under his belt — at least until he’s four years old. You’ll also want to make sure your new swimmer doesn’t swallow too much water while splashing around (something little ones often do), which could possibly lead to water intoxication, a rare but serious condition resulting from excessive fluid intake. So watch out for gulpers and keep any underwater submersions brief.
Don’t rely on floaties. As long as you’re in the water with your child and keep her within reach, water wings and inner tubes are fine. But never use these inflatable swimming aids as a substitute for approved life vests — they’re just not reliable or safe enough. And as soon as you’re done using the pool, make sure to remove all toys so children aren’t tempted to reach for them.
Take swimming & CPR classes. In addition to signing your child up for an age-appropriate swim class, it’s a good idea for you to take a child CPR class if you haven’t already. And it familiarize yourself with the signs of drowning in kids. More than likely you’ll never have to use this knowledge, but knowing what to look for can help save a life.