Almost everybody loves swimming, especially in the warmer months. But your average trip to the pool may be dangerous than you think.
1. Not Having a Designated Water Watcher
This is one of the most common causes of pool accidents. Imagine having a pool party. Since it’s a party, you think a lot of people (or at least someone) will be watching the pool. Now, don’t feel bad. Even the most careful parents make this mistake.
Now to avoid this, SafeKidsWorldwide recommends having a Water Watcher. “A Water Watcher is a responsible adult who agrees to watch the kids in the water without distractions and wear a Water Watcher card. After a certain amount of time (such as 15-minutes), the Water Watcher card is passed to another adult, who is responsible for the active supervision.”
Home pools don’t have lifeguards. Now, even when you’re at public pools, guardians should not rely solely on a lifeguard to watch the kids. Before smartphones, there are books and chatting to other individuals in the pool area. Whatever they may be, it is still a distraction that may put the kids at risk.
“The phone is the biggest distraction we see,” says DeQuincy. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that injuries involving swimming pools climbed 36% in children under 5 years old between 2007 and 2010, a time period in which adult smartphone use also skyrocketed. Though the association does not prove that phones were solely responsible, keep the phone down and stay alert to help keep your child safe.
For more tips, read more on Reader’s Digest.
3. Relying too much on floaties
One of the things why lifeguards hate floaties or any other flotation device is that parents tend to rely on them too much. It gives them a false sense of security. They then tend to let the kids go off on their own as long as they have these devices.
“They are not a replacement for a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest, which is the safest option for children when they are in and around the water.” The real deals are officially called “personal flotation devices” or PFDs. “Families should make sure babies and little kids have a PFD with both a collar for head support and a head strap between the legs,” Dr. White says.
4. Suction of pool drains
This is definitely a hazard. Children should be taught to avoid pool drains.
This is because the suction from the drain will be too strong to pull someone off, so the only way to free them is by disabling the drain suction. This is why it is important for homeowners to know how to shut off their pool pump in the event of an emergency.
5. Water Illness
One of the most common recreational water illnesses (RWIs) is the bacterial infection called Legionnaire’s disease, a type of pneumonia not spread from person to person. “People can get sick when they breathe in aerosolized water droplets or mists, like those made by hot tub jets, that contain Legionella [bacteria],” Hlavsa says. “Legionella can cause Legionnaires’ disease, severe pneumonia, and Pontiac fever, a mild flu-like illness without pneumonia.”
There are other water illnesses such as Athlete’s foot, and you know that annoying “water in the ear” sensation? Read on. Make sure you dry your ears thoroughly after getting out of the water. Why is this important? “Pseudomonas is a bacteria that can cause a skin infection, commonly called ‘hot tub rash,’ and an outer ear infection, commonly called ‘swimmer’s ear,” Hlavsa says. “If a swimming venue does not maintain proper cleaning practices and disinfectant levels, these bacteria can grow on wet surfaces of pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds and form biofilms—a slimy film made up of bacteria and their excretions.” That’s something that you really don’t want lingering in your ears. Again, you can check posted inspection scores or do your own inspection using test strips.
Bonus: Electrical shock
You know that electricity and water don’t mix. So what do we do with those gorgeous pool lights and sound system? Owners should make sure that the pool light is regularly maintained. Old pool lights have been known to cause electrical accidents for swimmers. Electricity is used to run pumps and heaters, and those also need to be maintained properly. Pool equipment should be supplied by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), too.