A recent post on The Hot Mess Press featured helpful information about child drownings. If you missed it, you can read it, here. It’s good to learn as much as you can about water safety, especially if you have a backyard pool. Even if you don’t, if you will be watching kids swim this summer, it pays to improve swimming pool safety as much as possible. In fact, you might want to take a certified water safety course.
In the meantime, in addition to learning what to do if you witness an urgent situation while kids are swimming, you should also know what NOT to do while you are on life guard duty. As a legal copywriter, I’ve written many articles on the dangers of distracted driving. There are typically three types of distraction: cognitive, manual and visual. If you’re watching over children while they swim, you’ll want to avoid distracted behaviors.
Put down your cell phone for swimming pool safety
Using a cell phone simultaneously poses all three types of distraction. If you’re looking at a cell phone screen, you are NOT looking at the child or children you’re supposed to be watching near or in the water! If you want to take a call or Google something online, first get another adult to take over swimming pool safety. Otherwise, leave your phone alone until swimming time is over!
Swimming pool safety improves when you face the water at all times
Socializing with friends or family while kids play in water is a common, fun, summer time activity. Many people have lovely outdoor furniture, which may include tables with umbrellas, surrounded by chairs. The only problem is, if you’re sitting in a chair that is facing away from the water, you can’t fully protect the children you’re watching.
To improve swimming pool safety, make sure you’re facing the water at all times when you’re watching kids in or near a pool. If you’re at a lake or the ocean, face toward the water, not away from it.
Do not lie back to catch a tan or take a nap while guarding kids in a pool
If you’re on life guard duty, you must stay focused on the task at hand. Stay sitting in an upright position at all times, in case you have to move quickly to help a child in the water. Yes, it feels great to bask in the sun, but it is not safe to lie back or close your eyes while you’re supposed to be watching kids.
Do not read a book while guarding kids in water
There’s nothing like feeling warm sunlight on your skin while you sip an ice cold drink and delve into a good book. Just don’t do this while you’re trying to keep children safe during water play! Think I’m being a bit over-restrictive? Just remember this swimming pool safety fact: It only takes 30 seconds for a child to drown! 30 SECONDS. It typically takes 49-60 seconds to read a full page in a book, which means that by the time you turn the page, a child could already be gone.
Keep conversations to a minimum
We’ve all seen movies where flocks of beautiful girls are hanging out around a lifeguard chair, flirting and conversing with a guard on duty. Sadly, I’ve seen similar scenarios play out in real life. If a life guard is talking to someone, he or she is not fully engaged in swimming pool safety.
If you’re sitting around a pool or lake with a bunch of friends or family members, you don’t necessarily have to be silent, although that’s probably best when guarding children who are swimming. You should at least avoid constant chatter, and keep your eyes on the kids at all time. If you keep turning your head to talk to others, you are turning away from the water.
Eating is a manual and cognitive distraction
Having a cookout or packing a picnic often accompany swimming days. If you’re planning to eat, first get all swimmers out of and away from the water. Designate a separate area for eating. The last thing you want is for a child to fall into the pool or wander into a lake while you’re enjoying your aunt’s famous country style potato salad.
The kids might complain and tell you they’re not hungry. Stick to your guns and clear the water area before YOU have something to eat!
Never let down your guard
Remember this post the next time you are guarding children while they’re swimming. Be mindful of cognitive, manual and visual distractions. Ask yourself if you are fully engaged in the task at hand when you’re on life guard duty.
There’s no such thing as too much safety when it comes to helping children stay safe during water play!