Summer is just around the corner, and that means just one thing: It’s almost pool season! Is there anything more fun for kids than running, leaping and cannonballing into that shimmering oasis? It’s the only way to stay cool as summer heats up, and an afternoon spent poolside is where some of childhood’s best memories are made.

As awesome as a pool promises to make your summer, it can pose a danger to children and pets if you’re not prepared. Follow these important tips to make sure your time at the pool is both fun and safe all season long.

Make Sure Everyone Knows How to Swim

Basic swimming lessons are crucial for kids, and being able to do a few simple strokes and tread water are major life skills. Like anything, starting lessons young will make the new skill easier to learn and will help kids grow confidence around the pool so they can enjoy the water without being afraid of it. Swimming lessons also instill a healthy respect for the water, as most incorporate basic safety training. If you’re an adult who doesn’t know how to swim, it’s never too late to learn! Find adult swim lessons or a private instructor in your area, and enjoy your new-found confidence near the water.

Keep an Eye on Kids at All Times

No matter how well you think your children can swim after all those lessons, allowing them to swim unattended is a recipe for disaster. There are just too many things that could happen: A sudden leg cramp, a bump on the head or just simply getting too tried or scared by deep water can lead to drowning. It’s not enough to assume that a group of kids together will be any safer: A child isn’t likely to be able to rescue a submerged swimmer and won’t know how to resuscitate or call for emergency help. The bottom line? Make sure an adult is in attendance during all pool times. Period.

Take a CPR Course

The Red Cross offers basic lifesaving, first aid and CPR courses around the country, and signing up for a class is one of the most worthwhile ways to spend an afternoon. The odds of you ever needing to put your CPR skills into practice are slim, but your knowledge could be the difference between life and death in an emergency. If someone needs to be rescued from the pool, starting emergency lifesaving procedures in the all-important minutes while you wait for EMS to arrive can boost survival rates.

Post — and Follow! — the Rules

If you’re visiting a public pool, read the rules aloud to children and follow them. It’s as simple as that. It’s important for adults to model good behavior and for everyone to understand that pool rules are in place for their safety. If you have your own pool, consider hanging a sign with basic rules to remind visitors to stay safe (don’t worry — it can be decorative, too!). The most important rules to consider:

  • No swimming alone.
  • No diving head first.
  • No running along the pool deck.
  • In case of emergency, call 9-1-1.

Clean and Inspect Your Pool Regularly

Make sure everything is in perfect working order and keep the pool clean of debris. It’s also important to check chlorine levels and test for bacteria. After all, drowning isn’t the only danger associated with swimming pools. If the water isn’t properly treated, it can cause illnesses like skin infections, eye problems and gastrointestinal distress. In fact, if you live in a HOA community, periodic inspections of the pool are required. Common violations include irregular levels of chlorine and pH and loose or missing drain covers. There’s no reason to be cited, so check these things regularly. Making sure the pool is clean, filtered and running smoothly will also help keep everyone safe, healthy and happy.

Keep Your Pool Secure

Every locality has its own laws about pool security, and it’s important to follow these ordinances. A tall fence around the pool is standard: Five to six feet is typical. There are also often setback rules about fence placement so that a curious child climbing the fence doesn’t fall directly into the water on the other side. Other safety considerations include gate locks and pool covers to keep toddlers and pets away from the water.

Following these six tips will help ensure that no one is hurt during the summer months, and your preparation will make an accident unlikely. Still, in the event that something unexpected does happen, you should always have a plan to follow in case of emergency. If someone is drowning or otherwise having trouble in the water, follow these steps:

  1. Call 9-1-1.
  2. Get the person out of the water.
  3. Check for breathing and for a pulse.
  4. If there is no pulse, start CPR.
  5. Continue until help arrives.

At the end of the day, the odds of an accident happening are actually very low. Being prepared for the worst doesn’t mean it will happen — it just means that you are ready to act in the unlikely event that the worst does come to pass. Knowing how to swim safely just means that you can enjoy one of the best parts of summer with family and friends without worrying, because you’ll know just how to handle anything that comes your way. So go ahead and dive in to the season!

For more information on pool safety, management and maintenance, click here.

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