Monday, June 18, 2007

On kids and pools

I have a love/hate relationship with my swimming pool. I love its refreshing, therapeutic value on a hot summer day. I love the way our backyard looks with a pool. I love pool parties, pool toys and poolside snacks.

I would happily fill in my pool tomorrow, cover it with grass and never look back.

You see, the hate part of my relationship with the pool is so overwhelming that it completely overshadows the love. I’m consumed with thoughts that there will one day be an “accident” and someone I know or love will drown in my pool. Morbid thoughts, I know, but thoughts I just can’t shake.

After our first summer with the pool, we removed the diving board. I was afraid someone would dive and break their necks. Not in my pool.

When Lisa was old enough to walk, we installed a fence around the pool (there was the statutory fence around the yard, but the pool was still accessible from the house).

Later that year, we installed alarms on the patio door and sun porch doors at the back, just in case she did manage to get out of our sight.

Last year, we installed a new lock on the sun porch door, thinking a sturdier lock would be an extra measure of protection.

On Saturday, Bart scaled the fence and entered the pool area. We were back there with him (as we always are), but it was a scary reminder of how it is that 58 children under 14 in Canada drown every year in backyard pools. Kids are tenacious and they just do not understand the danger, nor the consequences of their actions. You can put in all the safety devices you want. The reality is that there is nothing safer than respecting that pools=danger, so you need to be aware of where your child is at all times.

Here are my safety tips, whether you have a pool of your own or are visiting a home with a pool:

- Whether there is a fence around the pool or not, parents should always be in the backyard with their preschool children

- School-age children must understand the consequences of entering the pool area without parental supervision or consent (e.g. Lisa knows that if she breaks into the fenced area, even once, that there will be no swimming for her for the rest of the summer).

- Have a properly-sized life jacket for each preschooler and for any weak swimmers. They should be wearing the life jacket any time they are within the pool enclosure.

- When young children are in the pool, the adult’s one and only activity is watching those children. Not reading. Not talking on the phone. Not weeding the garden.

- If your child is missing, check the pool first.

Apparently we missed Safe Kids Week 2007, but this website has some good advice as well.

Happy Swimming!


Tessie said...

This freaks me out too. In addition to the interior fence, we went with one of those alarms that goes off in the house if anything over 18 lbs. falls in the pool.

But yeah, that doesn't help if the kids are already in the pool and someone is supposed to be watching. It's so hard to avoid this since everyone in TX has a pool.


Laural Dawn said...

This is such a scary thought. My friend just bought a house with a pool and is having a new fence put up before they move in (they have a week between moves) because she's so scared.
I'm terrified with pools. We had one growing up and my parents also had very strict rules. You need to. But, the fear ...
I one time was swimming (my dad was right there) and suddenly freaked out and felt like I couldn't swim. I was little - maybe 4. I remember that feeling of helplessness and was soooo grateful that my dad was there. He hopped right in and pulled me out.
Anyway ... I think when you're this vigilant it goes a long way.
Have a great summer in the pool!!!

Haley-O said...

I can see how having a pool would cause a lot of anxiety! but, the good kind of anxiety -- that protects you by forcing you to take any/all precautions! Thanks so much for these tips -- in time for summer.