Last Updated: February 17 2016
It’s February, and the end of the hot weather – and the swimming season – still doesn’t seem to be in sight. Here are seven great tips to have a safe swimming season as well as a fun one.
Protect yourself from the sun
Adequate protection from the sun is absolutely the most important pool safety tip that can be given. Sunscreen, a brimmed hat and a long sleeved shirt are must-haves on a scorching hot summer day. You need to be sun smart to prevent sunburn, heatstroke and dehydration something something skin cancer. Ensuring you drink plenty of water also prevents heatstroke and dehydration.
Under our harsh sun, skin cancer is a major concern for all of us. Here are some important tips from the Cancer Council on sun safety and skin cancer prevention:
- The Cancer Council recommends SPF 30 sunscreen for our harsh sun
- Sunscreen should be allowed to soak into the skin for 20 minutes before swimming
- Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours
- Make sure the sunscreen you’re using is waterproof and generously applied
- Sunscreen alone is not adequate to protect you from UV rays, you must absolutely wear protective clothing.
Remember: It is important to keep children under the age of 12 months in hats and protective clothing and out of direct sunlight as well as using toddler/baby sunscreen.
It is a sad fact that toddlers and young children are at a higher risk near swimming pools than other age groups. According to the Royal Life Saving Society (http://www.royallifesaving.com.au/families/at-home/toddler-drowning-prevention/keep-watch-lifestages), children under the age of five must be within arm’s reach of an adult at all times. It is also not sufficient to let other children supervise them.
Advice given for children from the ages of six to ten is that they should also be under constant supervision, however it is acceptable to be at the water’s edge and not in the pool. From the ages of eleven to sixteen, children are capable of supervising each other but are more likely to make risky decisions. At this age, you can teach your children rescue and resuscitation techniques.
Ensure young children or weak swimmers are provided with flotation devices and kept in shallow water.
Keep your pool chemicals level
Having the chemicals in your pool at the correct levels isn’t just for show. A pool that doesn’t have enough chlorine can harbor E. coli which can cause meningitis, gastroenteritis and urinary tract infections. Too much chlorine can cause lung, skin and eye irritations. Keep those chemicals level and keep your family and friends healthy
Read about algae here (link to blog post)
Enrol your children in swimming lessons
It may seem an obvious one, but if you’re going to have a swimming pool then there are a number of lifestyle changes you and your family will need to make. You must ensure that your children get swimming lessons to ensure they’re strong swimmers. In the rare case your toddler should get through your security fence and into the pool, survival swimming lessons teach them to roll over and float on their backs. Quite literally a life saver.
Whether or not you have a pool, you should know CPR. If not, chalk this one up to being one of those afore mentioned lifestyle changes you will need to make in order to own a pool and keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Keep a First Aid kit at your house in a place that is easy to get to. Ensure that all contents are replaced when used and not out of date.
Install appropriate fencing
The Royal Life Saving Society outlines the following points regarding gates and fences around your pool
A pool gate must be self-closing and self-latching, and it must latch on the first shut.
The latch on the gate must be at least 1.5 meters from the ground and it must swing outwards from the pool.
The gate must not be easily pulled open and should stay shut if a child bounces on the bottom rail
A gap between the gate and the pool must not be less than 100mm
The fence must be 1.2 meters high and no more than 100mm from the ground.
All panels of the fence must be securely in place with no rusty, loose or missing screws
No trees, shrubs, furniture or other objects high enough to be used to climb over the fence should be near it.
Store and maintain pool equipment
An easily overlooked safety hazard is your pool equipment. The pump and suction device should not be in operation when swimmers are in the pool and all equipment should be stored away to prevent trip hazards at the water’s edge. Keep an eye on the fittings in your pool to ensure that there are no loose screws, jagged edges or rust.
It should go without saying that electronic items should be kept away from the water. It’s vital that you also have an RCD or RCCB installed to cut the power as soon as there’s a problem. Also, store your pool chemicals securely in child-proof containers.
All users and supervisors of the pool should know how to switch off the equipment in an emergency and all swimmers should have their hair braided, in a bun or in a swimming cap.
A full safety checklist can be downloaded here