Spring is finally arriving in Chicago. Stories are starting to come out of warm-weather states in the U.S. – Florida, California, and Arizona about toddlers chasing the family dog, toddlers escaping during a game of hide-and-seek, toddlers out of sight for the time it takes to unload the groceries, toddlers left watching TV while the parent finishes some chore. Unfortunately the end result of these stories is always the same – the toddler is found in the pool. In some lucky instances someone nearby knew CPR and the child was revived. Too often the child dies.
Ideally every parent, every grandparent, every caregiver or concerned adult will teach the children they love basic water safety. They will enroll them in swim lessons. They will learn CPR. In a less perfect world, the absolute minimum effort should be effective fencing around any swimming pool on your property. Or if you are near a lake, stream, a neighbor’s unfenced pool or decorative water feature, fence your own property. Toddlers are most likely to drown in a swimming pool. They can rival Houdini as escape artists – make it harder for themselves to get into serious trouble when they do escape from your watchful eye. Fence.
Mary Ann Downing of Pool Safety Solutions posted a great technique for keeping kids safe at backyard pools. Check out http://www.ehow.com/how_5884519_use-safer-backyard-pool-event.html?shared=true. Basically, each responsible adult takes the ‘tag’ and spends 10 minutes watching all the kids near and in the pool. When the 10 minutes is up they ‘tag’ another adult who then spends 10 minutes. What I love about this is that it deals with a bunch of safety problems in one easy step. First, kids need constant supervision when they are in the pool and it’s virtually impossible for a parent to keep an eye on one child, much less 2, 3 or more for the length of an afternoon pool party. Second, am I the only parent who craves adult conversation? This way I’d get time to have a good catch-up with friends while knowing my kids are safe, it’s kind of like being a designated driver but I can still join the party except for short stints when I’m ‘it’. Third, ever noticed how lifeguards rotate out of their stations after a fairly short period of time? Humans can’t focus on anything effectively for very long – we need to walk around, look at something different – even the most diligent parent would be hard-pressed to stare diligently at the pool for a whole afternoon while you hear laughter, juicy stories, smell the BBQ, or just need to grab a cold drink or more sunscreen. Next time you’re at the pool with a friend, remember, Tag, you’re it!