Parents wear a lot of hats for their kids; they’re teachers, nurses, housekeepers, and a whole lot more. But every parent knows that their number-one job is to keep their children safe. Whether you’re teaching them not to run into the street, baby-proofing the living room, or keeping an eye on them as they play, safety is a serious priority.
When it comes to watching the kids in the pool, parents need to be lifeguards. According to a national poll from the University of Michigan, about ⅓ of parents said they would be comfortable letting their kids swim alone. This is a harrowing statistic, as drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children between 1 and 4 years old.
At All-Safe, we’ve heard every excuse in the book for letting the kids swim alone! We always encourage families to have a designated lifeguard whenever someone is swimming. Let’s take a look at the most common excuses, and break down why they don’t always make the grade.
“My Kids Know How to Swim.”
If you own a swimming pool at your home, your child has probably spent a lot of time swimming in it. You’ve probably given them a lesson or two, holding their hands as they kicked their way across the shallow end. Maybe they proved to be a natural, taking to swimming like a duck to water.
Here’s the reality: whether your kid is a brand-new swimmer or an Olympic hopeful, it’s never truly safe to let them swim alone. Even if your child is an excellent swimmer, they are still at risk for injury in the water. Anything from cramps and fatigue to an accidental bonk on the head can put your child in serious danger — and if there’s no parent around to be a lifeguard, the result could be tragic. Even Olympic swimmers have lifeguards on duty during live events!
While it may look loud, dramatic, and noticeable in the movies, drowning is a quick and silent killer. It can happen in an instant and every second counts when a person’s life is on the line. If you’re not around to watch the kids in the pool, you run the risk of a child’s injury going unnoticed until it’s too late.
“They Have Floaties On.”
Almost every child has worn those blow-up pool floaties at least once in their lives. They’re a classic tool for the young swimmer, a fun (and cute) way to help them stay buoyant as they get used to the water. However, it’s important to remember that those little flotation devices are not a genuine safety tool, and no parent should consider them a suitable substitute for a lifeguard.
Unlike actual safety flotation devices, floaties are typically very cheap and flimsy. One wrong move and they can quickly deflate, leaving your little one unaided in the water. This can be particularly dangerous for inexperienced swimmers; floaties can give them a false sense of security, and if they deflate in the deep end, your child could be in real danger.
Even if your child stays in the shallow end, their floaties might not be enough to keep their heads fully above water. This puts them at risk for all manner of injuries, including “dry drowning,” which occurs when a child accidentally swallows water, and the muscles in the windpipe close up to protect the lungs.
What’s the best way to prevent these dangerous scenarios? Simply watch your kids at the pool, and be ready to offer aid whenever necessary.
“I’m Just So Busy!”
Look, we understand: being a parent is a very tough job, and it often feels like you’re juggling a million balls in the air at once. But trust us, no parent is ever too busy to be a lifeguard for their loved ones! We can all agree that a child’s safety trumps every other task you might have on your plate.
Even if you do have a pressing obligation you can’t set aside, it’s critical that you have an adult present to watch the kids in the pool. Are you manning the grill at your family BBQ? Make sure someone else is manning the pool. Did your cell phone just ring? Ask another adult to supervise before you answer.
What do you when you’re the only adult present at the pool party? Make sure the pool is empty if you have to head inside for any reason. While you may hear a few groans and grumbles from the kids, sticking to this policy and staying diligent at the pool will make everyone’s swimming experience safer.
“Another Adult is Watching Them.”
Here it is: the one and only acceptable excuse for not watching your kids in the pool. If you’ve asked another parent (or another trustworthy adult) to be the lifeguard, there’s nothing wrong with leaving your loved ones under their watch. You’re officially free to check your phone, do a little work, or even join the kids in the pool!
Of course, it’s important to remember that a parent’s job is never done. If your designated lifeguard needs to step away for a moment, you need to be ready to supervise the pool once again. This is one of the first rules in pool safety — a lifeguard must always be on duty!