Wednesday, July 28, 2010

From the Source: Pool Etiquette & Precautionary Measures

Having manners at the pool is not only important for etiquette but for safety. The most important manners are those that can prevent a drowning or help save a life. Head Above Water is the most expansive swim school in southern California. We have 8 pools up and down the coast and have taught thousands of children to swim in the last nine years. When at the pool this summer or anytime, be sure to keep in mind these very important safety tips.

BHM: What is the #1 paramount rule all parents should know when it comes to pool safety?
MM: Never take your eyes of your child. My company offers lifeguards at pool parties and you would never believe how many parents take their eyes off their child - even for a second. I think parents feel more relaxed at pool parties and turn their head away from their child in the pool for a moment to say hello to a friend or refill their beverage and turn around only to find their child underwater and going down fast. Perhaps it's the social scene of the party that causes a distraction or the over confidence in the child's ability to stay on the step, but no matter the reason, there is no excuse for taking both eyes off any child who is left in the pool. Head Above Water provides lifeguards for pool parties and I have witnessed numerous children being saved from a near drowning. When hosting a pool party, always hire a lifeguard.

BHM: Do children really need to wait 30 minutes after eating before they can go swimming?
MM: Remember when your mother told you this, well it's a wives tale and has little truth. Of course, if you just ate a large pizza you might want to consider waiting a few minutes but in general the amount of food consumed in one sitting is fine and has already traveled down your throat and into your stomach. The common belief that the blood going to your digestive tract after eating steals the blood needed to keep your arms and legs pumping during swimming is not true, says many scientist and exercise experts. The body does supply extra blood to aid in digestion, but not enough blood to keep your arm and leg muscles from properly functioning. Your biggest danger related to eating and swimming is probably a minor cramp.

BHM: If a young child makes an accidental poop in the pool, what is the proper cleanup to get rid of the germs and possible bacteria?
MM: Before this happens use preventative measures to cloth all children still in potty training in a baby swim diaper. If fecal matter does slip into the pool, clear the pool of all persons immediately. Then remove the matter with a net and dispose in the garbage. Chlorine in the pool water does kill most germs that are responsible for water-borne illnesses, but chlorine takes time to work so added chemicals will have to be put into the water and the pool will need to be shut down for a few hours. Check the chlorine levels and raise them to 2.0 parts per million if they are below that level. Check the pH levels, and make sure they are between 7.2 and 7.5 -- this combination of chlorine and pH will ensure that your pool is decontaminated within a few hours.

Supervise your children or aid in the supervision of other unattended children. Needless to say, you should protect all children from accidental drowning. A considerable number of children in the United States die every year due to accidental drowning. Thus, swimming pool safety rule should be strictly followed both by adults and children. If your child wants to go swimming, then accompany him or her. If you are not available to personally supervise your child, then you should ask a relative or a sitter to accompany your child in your absence. You should also instruct your kids not to stray away too far. Remind your children to be always on the lookout for you or other adults when swimming so they would know where to get help.

Know the swimming pool staff or the surrounding environment. If strictly followed, the swimming pool safety rules will be a crucial point in the success of preventing unfortunate circumstances like accidental drowning. You should know the pool environment so that you can instruct your child to not go beyond a place in the pool that you deem is too risky for them. You should also know the surrounding facilities that can immediately aid you in case something goes wrong. You should also be familiar with the swimming pool staff and lifeguard, so you would know who you can rely on, in emergency cases like who is knowledgeable on CPR.

Learn how to swim. Obviously, going swimming does not necessarily mean knowing how to swim. Knowing how to swim is an important swimming pool safety rule and can be a decisive factor between life and death. So, if you do not know how to swim then learn how to swim by enrolling in swimming classes. Or if your child does not know how to swim, teach them or enroll them in swimming lessons.

Strictly instill common swimming pool safety rules such as no running, no pushing or no eating in the pools. You should follow these and other swimming pool safety rules since they are implemented primarily to prevent accidents. For example, the no-running-rule is implemented because the surrounding environment is generally wet and doing so may increase the risk of accidental slips that may cause brain injuries. You should always instill the swimming pool safety rules to your children.

Maintain good hygiene and good health before swimming. Good hygiene is often disregarded by many individuals, and maintaining good health is a required swimming pool safety rule. If an individual who is a carrier of E-coli failed to wash his or her hands after going to the washroom, he or she may then contaminate the pool spreading e-coli to others. Also, being in good health, like being alcohol or drug free, may prevent alcohol or drug-related incidents such as unruly behavior. You do not want one or both to happen so make sure you maintain good hygiene in and out of the pool.

Following these simple rules can help keep your kids safe this summer and prevent an accident before it's too late.

Meredith McWatters is the founder of Head Above Water swim school. For inquiries contact or visit