Michiganders love the water! After surviving another Midwest winter, the summer sun beckons us and we gather at lakes and pools all over the region.
But remember: those swimming pools, whether private or public, are potential sources of harm for us and our loved ones. Drowning deaths are the second leading cause of death for children ages 1-4.
So, whether you have a pool or you take your kids, your grandkids or any other children to a pool, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Pool owners need to make sure their pool is inaccessible for the most part. You must have a secure fence at least four feet high surrounding the pool with intact gates and latches. In the off-season, the pool should be covered. Consider installing a surface alarm so you are alerted if somebody breaches the water when you are not there.
- Make sure the pool you are swimming in is well-maintained. Are drains safely maintained? Is the water clear? If your eyes sting from being in the water, the water is not hygienic for you or your children.
- Stay in arm’s reach of your children at all times. This may mean being in the pool the entire time with younger children.
- Insist that younger children wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket while in the pool, especially if there is no official lifeguard.
- Designate a lifeguard. If you own a pool and invite people over, either hire a lifeguard or decide ahead of time who will be the lifeguard. This person must remain sober, aware and focused on watching the water. You can take turns if you need to. The designated lifeguard must know CPR and first aid. If you are the guest of someone with a pool and nobody is acting as the lifeguard, you must step into that role.
- If you are supervising a child and don’t know how to swim, then you cannot watch them alone.
- Make sure everybody knows the pool rules, including no running, no diving and staying away from drain covers.
- Ensure that there is a pool first aid kit visible and stocked with rescue equipment and scissors (for tangled hair).
- Keep a well-charged phone nearby.
- Enroll your children in swimming lessons. Make sure all adults who care for them are strong swimmers. But be aware that just because a child has taken swimming lessons, he or she must still never swim alone.
We want you to enjoy the Michigan summer to its fullest. By playing it safe, you can have fun in the sun.