· 3 min read
In many places, community pools were shut down. Many families headed to their own backyards to stay cool and play in their own pools. Pool sales skyrocketed across the United States and Europe, fueled by families looking to find ways to relax and find pandemic-friendly outdoor recreational activities, according to a Reuters report.
Now, as COVID cases decline and vaccines roll out, some cities are reopening their aquatic centers, many with limited capacity and heightened safety measures. The backyard swimming pool trend is also expected to continue. You may be wondering if it’s safe to head back into the water.
Theresa Bellish, a water safety expert at NSF, says there are ways to ensure your return to the water — in your backyard pool or hot tub or the public pool — is as safe as it can be.
Here she talks about tips for a safer pool and swim.
“The pool itself should be safe, generally speaking. If it is properly chlorinated, organisms are killed, but there are other safety measures to consider,” says Theresa. “The physical safety of the pool environment is very important.” For example, if a pool has a life ring with a rope or there is a phone nearby in case of emergency.
Pools are a great source of fun and entertainment, but families should not forget about safety concerns, Bellish says. Consider these facts: In the U.S., drowning takes an average of 3,500-4,000 lives per year (which is an average of 10 per day). Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages one to four.
Twenty-three percent of child drownings happen during a family gathering near a pool. A lack of barriers around water contributes to a majority of drowning deaths.
Even if your kids know how to swim, it is important that an adult is always present to supervise kids. Parents might want to consider enrolling in CPR training to be prepared if an emergency happens. Establish and enforce rules for pool and hot tub use.
For backyard pools, use a secure lid that covers the entire pool and prevents a child from slipping in.
In almost all communities, pools are required to have fencing around them. “Make sure your entryway to the pool is always secured so children can’t slip in unnoticed,” says Theresa.
Consider purchasing alarms for the pool itself or for doors leading inside your pool area. These alarms alert parents and caregivers when somebody is in or near the pool. The four major types of pool/barrier alarms are above ground, floating, submerged and wristband.
Keep rescue equipment, such as a throw ring or life preserver where you can reach it easily.
“The most important thing you can do whether you are swimming in your own pool or heading out to a public pool is to make sure the pool meets certification standards,” says Theresa. She says at public pools you should address any safety concerns with the pool’s Certified Pool & Spa Operator® (CPO®). That means that person has participated in the certification program for keeping pools safer and keeping them open, and has the knowledge, techniques and skills required for proper pool operations.
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