Today, we welcome Kaitlin Gardner from An Apple Per Day to the blog! She is passionate about living an eco-friendly and healthy lifestyle. I encourage you to visit her blog where you can learn more about making healthy life choices, get great exercise tips, and learn how to live a greener lifestyle.
Swimming pools and kids go together like peas and carrots—or at least, they should. I’ve always believed that the secret to keeping kids safe in any situation, especially in and around a pool, are age-appropriate rules that are understandable, memorable and reasonable. In other words, keep it simple, make it clear, and don’t nit-pick (but don’t cut corners either!)
Make a sign: Have a ‘Pool Rules’ sign visible from the pool area that serves as a visual reminder for guests. Remember, no one set of rules works for every family. Go online to find ideas and figure out what works best for your family pool. Below are a few links to help you get started:
In the meantime, here’s some basic rules and tips that will help everyone enjoy a safe and fun summer around your backyard pool:
- No running. This is easy. Of course, there is sometimes a fine line between running and walking, as any child will demonstrate when they hop out of the pool and head to the diving board. Avoid hearing “but I AM walking!” by adopting my mantra: Instead of saying, “Walk!” I say, “You’re moving too fast!”
- No pushing or shoving people into the pool. Let’s face it, at some point, kids are going to be kids. And what’s more fun than sneaking up on an unsuspecting friend or family member and launching them into the pool? For young children, say up to 10 years old, the potential for a semi-disaster is great. Children don’t weigh much and it only takes a slight weight shift for a child to go into the pool halfway, catching the edge, or even landing hard on the pool deck instead of in the pool. When my kids were very little, I told them nobody gets to decide when someone else goes into the pool. If they do, I get to decide who comes out of the pool!
- Feet first in the shallow end. One of the best ways to ensure that your pool’s shallow and deep ends are safely marked is to run a floating pool divider across the surface. These not only prevent unwanted diving accidents, they also alert non-swimmers to the area of the pool where the depth increases—sometimes quickly.
- No glass around the pool. The last thing anyone wants to do is cut their foot or hand open while enjoying a day at the pool. I banned all glass containers from our pool deck, for both kids and adults. Beautiful, multi-colored acrylic cups, including stemware, are widely available now, in grocery, big-box and department stores, to match any décor or for any occasion.
- No means no! This rule is one of the most important for kids to understand when they are in a pool with other kids. Everyone has their own idea of what is fun in the water. For some, it’s swimming underwater; for others, it’s floating around, or doing cannonballs. But one thing that I remember most vividly from my childhood is the dreaded dunk. There was always “that guy” at the pool who thought it was funny to come up behind someone and push their head under water—and hold it there! For me, it was terrifying, which is why my children are trained to respect others’ words and wishes—in the pool especially. Whether it is being splashed in the face or dunked, or any other unwanted action, if someone asks you to stop, stop—the very first time.
- Wear sunscreen! Burns happen fast, especially at the beginning of the summer season, but for many, all season long. I keep sunscreen of various types (spray, lotion) and formulas (perfume-free, sensitive skin, face only) on hand for guests who forget to bring some along.
If you have special landscaping or water features like a fountain, waterfall or slide, you will want to incorporate specific rules for those areas. In my backyard, there are three places my kids and their friends are allowed to be: the pool deck, the lawn and the water. Areas with bark or landscaping are off limits. Instead of a diving board, we have a large swim rock, on which we allow no more than two people at a time.
Make sure all of the guests who enjoy your pool are aware of the rules. It will keep them safe, happy and wanting to come back for more!
Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She is married to her college sweetheart and lives in Pennsylvania. She and her husband enjoy going for long hikes, to get out and enjoy nature. She is working on her first book about ways to live an eco-friendly, healthy, natural life.