Pool safety: A parent’s guide to a safe summer

Temperatures in Arizona are quickly rising; a sure sign of a fast-coming summer break from school. Desert dwellers know that whether you’re an adult or a toddler, nothing says refreshing like a dip in the pool.

Before you slather on the sunblock, remember to take precautions to keep your day fun and safe. The number of Arizona child drownings rose by 20 percent from 2015 to 2016. Adults who educate themselves and understand the risks that bodies of water pose to children are able to better enforce safety tips that could save a life and make 2017 the safest year yet.

Learn what water safety is.
Water safety spans from aquatic competence, knowledge of water conditions, the ability to make safe judgments and everything in between. The need for safety precautions extends far beyond the pool steps. During summer months, children are more likely to be drawn to bodies of water like ponds in parks, buckets and hot tubs. Any body of water, regardless of an indoor or outdoor location, demands a safety-conscious mindset. Never consider an area with a body of water a safe zone.

Educate yourself on water safety measures.
Take advantage of free water safety education provided by American Red Cross on topics like drowning prevention, home pool and hot tub safety, watching children in and around water, choosing a life jacket and how to respond to a water emergency. Take an adult CPR class online, or register to take one of many onsite CPR classes located Valleywide. Water safety apps like Swim – American Red Cross are available on Google Play and the Apple App Store, providing essential information to on-the-go parents and caregivers.

Prevent unsupervised access to water.
Install barriers and safety covers, keeping pool toys from sight and remove structures that may provide access to pools like outdoor furniture, playground equipment and any other climbable objects. It’s important to remember, however, that no security measure is 100-percent reliable.

Enroll your child in swim lessons.
When parents teach their children basic water skills early in life — as early at 6 months old — their children have an advantage in the water that could be lifesaving. Skills like floating while resting and breathing are invaluable. Older toddlers and children learn more sequential steps for swimming like when to take a breath of air and swim until they reach the side of the pool. While swim lessons are never a substitute for full supervision, learning swim skills early could save a life in case of emergency. Arizona parents have easy access to local swim schools like Aquatots and Hubbard Swim School, which have locations around the Valley.

Keep your child hydrated with water.
Arizona heat is no joke and dehydration can result in serious health problems. Peak sunlight hours can lead to more rapid dehydration, which is why it’s best to keep time outdoors before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Be aware of the signs that your child may be dehydrated including chapped lips, fussiness, extreme thirstiness and low energy levels. Keep an emergency hydration liquid like Pedialyte on-hand and be aware of the shady areas in your immediate surroundings. Parents should be wary of sports drinks. Some children are resistant to drinking water, but there are tactics parents can use to make drinking water with their toddlers a fun activity like toasting to the surrounding plants and flowers.

Give 100% of your attention to supervising children in and near bodies of water.
It’s easy to become distracted on your phone or in conversation at a friend’s BBQ, but all it takes is a split second for an emergency to strike. Never take your eyes off your child when they are in or around a body of water. If in a social setting, take turns in shifts every 15-30 minutes as designated “water watchers,” multiple adults at a time.

For free child development support, call the Birth to Five Helpline at 877-705-KIDS (5437)
or download the Birth to Five Helpline app!

All content in this article, including any advice or commentary from Southwest Human Development staff and/or others, should be considered an opinion and is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for medical or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the direct advice of your own trusted professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the child/ren in your care. Southwest Human Development does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, procedures or other information that may be mentioned in this article. You may contact Southwest Human Development’s Birth to Five Helpline at 1-877-705-KIDS (5437) to speak with one of our early childhood professionals for personalized assistance. Birth to Five Helpline specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.