Backyard Pool Safety

By Jenny Carrier

July 1, 2020

Jenny is Registered Nurse serving the York-Simcoe area. She has over 12 years paediatric nursing experience and is the Mama to two busy boys. Jenny is passionate about teaching and providing support to families as a Sleep Consultant, Lactation Counsellor and Prenatal Educator.

Happy Canada Day, Mama! Or if you’re one of our American Mamas – Happy Soon-to-Be Fourth of July! It’s officially summertime and I couldn’t be more excited. I don’t know about you, but we decided that one of the best ways to stay cool this summer would be to grab a small kiddie pool for our backyard. We just got a tiny one, but I know some Mamas have been lucky enough to get their hands on the bigger blow-up or even soft-walled backyard pools. Or maybe you’re a Mama with a full size pool! Lucky you! 

With the popularity of these pools for our kids, it might be a good time to go over some pool safety tips. It’s incredibly important to remember that pool safety is imperative even in itty bitty pools (heck, even in bathtubs!). Did you know that a child can drown in as little as 10 seconds? This thought is pretty scary, but the scarier fact is that drowning is nothing like it looks on TV – there is no splashing and no calling for help. It is SILENT. It may not even occur to you right away that your babe is in trouble. As a mom, that is terrifying. So let’s talk about some things you can do to make sure that everyone has the best possible time in your backyard pool, all while staying safe!

In order to get the best information for you, I went to an expert: My Mom. Hear me out! My mom, Trisha, is a Red Cross Certified First Aid Instructor with First in Safety Training and is a former Lifesaving Society NLS Instructor & Lifeguard. She knows her stuff! According to Trisha, the number one most important thing for parents to do when their kids are playing in the pool is to Be There. “A conscious, sober adult needs to be watching the kids, and they need to be within arm’s reach,” Trisha advises. This means that when you’re standing outside of the pool, check to see if you can reach the centre of it. If you can’t, time to join the kids in the pool! You should also check to make sure the bottom of the pool is clean, and keep the surface of the pool as clear as possible. It’s fun to have floaty toys, but don’t pack them in so tight that there’s hardly any room for people. You want to have a clear view of the pool and your children. 

“Within arm’s reach” also means that you should be actively watching your little ones, so no phone time or reading a book – your focus should be on the kids at all times. It doesn’t matter how big or small the pool is, because a person can drown in only a few centimetres of water. If you’re feeling stressed, Trisha has this pro-tip for moms: “If you’ve got a really active toddler who doesn’t stay close to you, or is extra adventurous, put them in a PFD! Get them used to wearing a lifejacket as a regular part of being in the pool or at the beach, and you’ll have less to worry about.” 

This brings me to a note about PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices) and pool toys. A pool noodle … would be considered pool toys. A PFD is a certified life-saving device. It should have a Transport Canada or Canadian Coast Guard label on it (in the USA it should have a US Coast Guard label). So if you’re looking to just have fun with a floating ring or a puddle jumper, that’s great! They’re a lot of fun and can be excellent teaching tools for toddlers learning to swim. Not to mention, who doesn’t love sticking a baby in one of those floaties and letting her float around the pool? At the end of the day though, they are just toys, and will not save a baby or toddler from drowning. In fact, those buoyancy vests can inadvertently flip a child face down in the water and make it difficult for them to right themselves. “Have fun with them, but stay close by. And if you’re worried, use a PFD!” says Trisha. The Canadian Red Cross has a fun colouring page for kids with a super helpful PFD checklist that you can print out here

Having a backyard pool is a lot of fun, and it gives everyone a much-needed break from the heat, but it does come with risks. As parents, it’s our job to understand the risks and create a space that is as safe as possible for our kids. Because drowning happens so fast, and is silent, there is always a chance that even if you’re standing Right There that something could happen. Which is why we recommend knowing what to do in an emergency. Participating in a CPR Workshop or becoming certified in CPR is an excellent way to give yourself the peace of mind that you’ve got the knowledge to respond in case of an accident. Click here for more information on the classes we offer! 

Well Mama, now that you’ve got the safety part down, time to go join your littles in the pool! I hope you have a safe and sunny summer! 

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