I find a reason every year to delay the opening of our backyard pool.
I declared last spring, for example, that the pool was to stay closed until we finished cleaning up the yard and mulching. Since I live on a big lot with too many gardens, the pool remained closed until mid-July.
I’ll continue with the rule this year. Maybe I can think of a way to delay until August?
Why am I so reluctant to jump into a quintessential part of summer? The reason is named Matthew. He’s a feistily independent 3-year-old whom I fear will find a way into the pool one day when I’m not looking.
Pool safety tips
In case I run out of excuses, and we do open our pool before fall, I did a little research on pool safety tips to help lessen my neurosis. Here’s what I found:
- An adult should always watch the child when he’s in the pool. But I have a preschooler who climbs bookshelves or runs out of buildings when you turn your back for like three seconds. What if he tries to get into the pool when I’m not looking? If that happens, hopefully, this pool safety checklist will prevent anything bad from happening:
- Teach children how to swim. I’m one for two on this one. The big brother can swim, but the little 3-year-old can’t. Your local YMCA and/or Parks and Recreation department may offer swim lessons. Remember: Just because a kid can swim doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch them in the pool.
- Install a fence around the pool that is at least four feet in height. It shouldn’t be climbable and there shouldn’t be more than 4 inches between the vertical slats. In addition to installing a non-climbable fence, there should not be anything alongside the fence, like lawn furniture, that could be used to climb it. Kids are very good problem solvers.
- Have a self-closing, self-latching gate. And for those with above ground pools, when the pool is not in use, lock or remove ladders and steps to prevent access.
- Keep pool covers in working order. Hmmm. Need to check this one. Our cover is looking a little shabby.
- Know how to perform CPR on children and adults. I took a CPR class last year for this very reason. But I’m not good in emergencies. I’m doubtful I’ll be any help if my worst fears come true.
- Establish pool “rules” – such as “no running on the pool deck” and “no diving in a pool that’s not deep enough.” Another suggested rule is to keep toys away from the pool when the pool is not in use, so kids aren’t tempted to go play with them. I like the rules. I’ll adopt them immediately.
- Pool alarms. I want one. Now. I’m adding this to the list of “requirements” needed to open the pool. A pool alarm may offer some benefit, but keep in mind that it’s not to replace proper fencing.
- Make pool safety interesting. Try showing your child this video:
- Convey to your child that the wrath of mom and dad will reign down on him if he’s found in the pool area without an adult. This is my very own rule. Maybe it’s a bit extreme.
But I’m hoping my threats, combined with these tips, will help me keep my sometimes disobedient son safe this summer.