Early Education     K-12    

Pool rules

Safety measures to keep in mind this summer

Safety measures to keep in mind this summer

As children age, parents will let go of their children in the water, but Linda Sue Sutherland, senior coordinator of aquatics for the American Red Cross of Greater New York, recommends they remain close by at all times.

“Parents should never be more than an arm’s length away from their child,” she says. “The biggest thing is supervising your kids.

“Barbecuing shouldn’t distract you. Get someone else to do the cooking if you’re watching your kids. Keep a cell phone by the pool, but ONLY use it in times of an emergency. Don’t answer it when it rings.”

If parents are throwing a party, Sutherland recommends designating one person as the “child watcher” or, better yet, hiring a certified lifeguard for the event.

Swimming lessons are a good preventative measure, but parents shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Teenagers, some of them strong swimmers, are less likely to drown in pools than their younger siblings – but the state health department figures show the highest numbers of drowning deaths are in the teen and under 5 age groups.

What children need is a comfort around water that’s matched with a healthy respect for the dangers it can pose.

“I advocate taking [children] in the water early, and taking advantage of the child/parent classes,” Sutherland says. “It helps them to learn to listen to you in and around the water.”

Even if you’re sure children are going to listen, sure they’ll stay clear of the pool when you’re not around, the state regulations remain in place.

“When children get out of the water, make sure you take all of the toys out,” Sutherland says. “You don’t want them reaching in to get them and falling in.”

She suggests ladders and other means of access should be removed when the pool is not in use and gates to the pool enclosure should be both self-closing and self-latching to prevent a child from sneaking inside an unlatched doorway.

It all comes down to keeping children and water separate by any means possible. “They can drown in a bucket,” Sutherland says.

“They should never be out there alone.”

Jeanne Sager is a writer and mom from Callicoon Center.