Important Swimming Pool Safety Tips for Families

Updated September 14, 2022
Cheerful father and son having fun in the swimming pool

Are you ready to cool down this summer? A visit to a swimming pool is a popular summer event. If you have access to an indoor pool or if you live in a warmer region you may be able to visit a pool throughout the year. Pools are also common features of hotels, cruise ships, resorts, and fitness centers.

But while swimming pools are high on the fun meter, they are also an environment where adults and children should exercise caution. According to the Pool Safety Foundation, swimming pool dangers can include injuries from slips and falls or malfunctioning equipment. Drowning is, of course, another concern. To keep yourself and your family safe, get the facts about swimming pool safety to help minimize risks and still have a splashing good time.

Essential Swimming Pool Safety Tips

Summer fun and swimming pools go hand-in-hand, especially if you are safe in the water and take proper precautions. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission notes (CPSC) that fatal and nonfatal swimming-related injuries remain high as of 2022, so "water safety vigilance is as important as ever" to keep yourself and your children safe and happy.

Prevent Drowning

When you think of dangers in the water, drowning is probably the first to come to your mind, with an average of 389 drowning incidents a year, according to the CPSC. But drowning can be very preventable with proper precautions. You can minimize the risk of drowning by following a few tips from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • Always supervise children while the pool is being used.

  • Arrange swimming lessons for everyone who will use the pool.
  • Be aware of the pool depth and follow "no diving" restrictions in shallow pools.
  • Install pool safety fences and covers to limit pool access.
  • Keep lifesaving equipment, and floatation devices, close to the pool at all times.
  • Learn CPR and other life-saving techniques.
  • Make children wear life jackets.
  • Stress proper pool behavior and limit horseplay.
  • Use the buddy system.

Watch for Water Quality

Germs are everywhere. While you can try to get rid of the microscopic dangers with proper chemicals and filtering, sometimes they can cause issues. Many types of bacteria can survive in swimming pools, circulating among the swimmers. So the CDC offers a few tips to keep swimming-related illnesses from affecting you, your family, and others who are using the pool.

  • Do not allow children to wear diapers when using the pool unless they are wearing swim diapers.
  • Keep pets out of the pool.
  • Keep the pool water properly filtered and chemically treated at all times.
  • Keep water out of your mouth and dry ears.
  • Refrain from using a pool if you are sick or have an open wound.
  • Rinse off before and after entering the pool.

Remember, if in doubt, just stay out of the swimming pool. Pools that look questionable might not be worth it.

Avoid High Concentration Chemical Exposure

Pool chemicals are a must, right? It's one of the key factors for keeping those nasty bacteria at bay. However, chemicals in high concentrations can pose a safety issue to swimmers. So, it's all about balance.

Chlorine, for example, can dry and irritate the skin and aggravate asthma. These chemicals can also kill the body's naturally beneficial bacteria if water is swallowed, potentially causing digestive problems and lowered immunity. To avoid the chemical contamination dangers of swimming pools, the National Capital Poison Center offers a few tips.

  • Always wear safety equipment when handling chemicals.
  • Do not increase chemical treatments to compensate for a dirty pool.
  • Ensure proper ventilation.
  • Follow instructions carefully when treating a pool.
  • Keep chemical treatments at the proper level using testing kits.
  • Keep pool chemicals properly stored and out of reach of children to avoid accidental poisonings.
  • Store chemicals in a cool, dry place to avoid landscape contamination or risk of fire.

Eliminate Electric Shock Dangers

Modern Luxury House With Private Infinity Pool

Electricity is a hidden danger of pools that you might not consider. And in truth, the risk is very low. The CPSC only notes 33 fatalities from 2002 to 2018 due to pools and electricity. But it's still important to take necessary precautions. To avoid the risk of electrical shock in swimming pools, the CPSC provided a few important tips.

  • Do not keep ungrounded electrical equipment - stereos, grills, lawn equipment, etc. - near the pool.
  • Use only ground circuit fault interrupter (GCFI) outlets in the pool area.
  • Stay out of the pool during lightning storms.
  • Do not install pools near power lines.
  • Make use of battery-operated products.
  • Check underwater lights regularly.
  • Don't touch electrical products when wet.

Take Care With Food and Drinks

Pools are a central entertainment area of summer get-togethers. Snacks by the pool is as much of a summer tradition as swimming itself. Keep these points in mind when having a summer get-together that includes food or drinks.

  • Do not drink alcohol or do drugs when swimming because it can impair the ability to judge distances as well as the physical coordination necessary to swim, states the CDC.
  • Do not use glass containers or sharp utensils in the pool area, according to DC Parks and Recreation.
  • Keep food out of the pool to avoid overtaxing the filtration system.

Prevent Sunburn

On a nice sunny day, there is nothing better than throwing on your suit and hitting the pool. But you don't want to forget about the sun when it comes to your pool fun.

Individuals who spend a lot of time at the swimming pool frequently develop golden tans, but at the same time, overexposure to the sun's radiation increases the risks of skin cancer. Furthermore, sunburns can be painful and can create open sores and blisters that can become infected. If you don't want to get out of the pool, you can reduce the sun's risks with a few precautions listed by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

  • Apply water-resistant sunscreen every two hours while using the pool.
  • Avoid staying in the sun in the late morning and afternoon hours when the sun's rays are strongest.
  • Stay in shaded lounging areas when not in the pool.
  • Wear a swimsuit cover-up to limit the amount of exposed skin.

Use Care With Pool Toys

From water guns and inflatable lounges to buoys and basketball hoops, pool toys offer hours of fun entertainment for swimmers. Everyone loves to join in a good water gun fight!

Pool toy and floaties risks are one of those hidden dangers you don't want to forget when spending the day in the pool. To keep your water gun fun safe, check out a few of the tips offered by The Children's Hospital at Westmead.

  • Check for damage and recalls.
  • Check weight recommendations.
  • Ensure proper fit of floaties or water wings.
  • Follow assembly instructions.
  • Pool toys, including water wings, are not meant to be used as lifesaving devices and are not substitutes for life jackets.
  • Store toys away from the pool area when not in use.
  • Supervise children with toys at all times.
  • Use only toys designed for use in swimming pools.

Safety Tips for Inflatable Pools and Fun Centers

A toddler splashes water on her mother

Inflatables are on the rise. You just blow them up, and you have slides, bouncing, and swimming fun. Inflatable pools, fun centers, and plastic pools are also great for little ones that aren't perfect swimmers.

But small inflatable and plastic pools have their own set of risks that parents should be aware of. These inflatable pools can become lopsided and unbalanced. They can also become contaminated because they are filled with hose water. Furthermore, inflatable pools can collapse or blow away in severe weather. Keep any potential risks with floaties and inflatables at bay by trying out these tips from the CDC.

  • Anchor the pool securely in a flat, stable location to prevent tips.
  • Disinfect pools as needed.
  • Do not exceed the recommended weight and other use tolerances for the pool.
  • Drain the pool daily to avoid contamination from standing water.
  • Inspect the pool regularly for weak points, tears, or punctures.
  • Remove debris and allow the pool to air dry.

There are many different swimming pool dangers that swimmers face regularly, but with proper precautions and common sense, many risks can be minimized while still maximizing the enjoyment of a fun day at the pool.

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Important Swimming Pool Safety Tips for Families