Pool Rules: Keeping the Kids Safe
By Joan Whetzel
Swimming season will soon be upon us. For those of us living in the southern-most states, it may already be here - at least for those with backyard pools. Whether swimming at a public pool or a backyard pool, it's always a good thing to know the pool rules to keep ourselves and our families safe.
When swimming at a public pool, you will probably encounter many of these rules. The pool will post a set of rules for that pool. Be sure to read them and obey them. And have fun.
1. Always follow the lifeguard's instructions.
2. Don't Run
3. Children under 7 years of age (under 9 or 10 in some locations) must be accompanied by an adult or an older sibling or friend who can swim.
4. Proper swim attire must be worn.
5. Children who are not potty trained must wear a swimming pool safe diaper.
6. Persons who appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs may be asked to leave the pool.
7. Food or drinks are generally not allowed, except in designated areas.
8. Glass containers are usually not allowed.
9. Arm floaties and child's flotation vests are allowed on smaller children. Larger floatation devices (noodles, beach balls, inner tubes, body length lounger floats) may or may not be permitted, depending on the specific pool and the number of people swimming that day.
10. Anyone with open cuts or sores, must keep them covered by a bandage. If the sores or cuts are large, or appear infected, such patrons may not be allowed to swim until the injuries are healed.
11. Most pools require adults and children to exhibit adequate swimming skills before being allowed into the deep end. Very young children (under the age of 5) may not be allowed in the deep end without an adult nearby.
12. No diving is allowed in shallow parts of the swimming pool. Diving is only allowed in the deep end.
13. Sunbathers must lie at least 3 feet away from the edge of the pool when lying on the swim deck, in order to prevent other swimmers from tripping.
14. Foul language and verbal abuse are not allowed, and may be cause for the lifeguard to ask a patron to leave, and to suspend swimming privileges for period of time.
15. In case of an emergency (injuries or drowning rescue) or if thunder or lightning is in the area, lifeguards will ask patrons to step out of the water until further notice. All patrons must follow such requests. For emergencies, patrons will be most likely be allowed back into the pool one the emergency is over (unless the pool requires cleaning). For thunder and lightning situations, patrons will most likely be allowed back into the pool once no lightning and thunder have been witnessed for at least 15 minutes.
16. Lifeguards or the pool manager may close the pool, or portions of the pool, for maintenance reasons or for cleaning as necessary.
17. Many public pools enforce a 10 minute adult swim rule ever hour. That means, 10 minutes out of every hour, all children under the age of 18 are required to get out of the pool, the pool only to the adults. This serves several purposes. (a) If there are no adults, the life guards get a 10 minute sun break every hour. (b) Adults get the pool to themselves without getting accidentally splashed, kicked, or knocked around by kids, and without having to compete with the kids for the diving board. (c) It allows the kids to get 10 minutes of rest every hour, so they don't get over tired, which is one of the main causes of drowning in young kids, who all too frequently don't realize they are getting tired.
Back Yard Pools
Back yard pools at private residences are not subject to the same rules as public pools. Each State, however, has a set of laws in place that cover pools at private residences (i.e. a fence at least 6 ft. high around the pool and a locking gate to keep others from entering the pool when the home owner is not around to supervise). NOTE: All States and Cities have fencing requirements around back yard pools, but they will also have other rules and regulations as well. Check online for your State's laws and City's ordinances. This will help keep others safe when visiting your home and swimming in your pool. It will also protect you, the homeowner or renter, from lawsuits and other legal problems, as long as you are following these laws and ordinances.
In general, though, many of the pool rules you should enforce around your back yard pool, are the same or similar to those enforced at public pools.
1. When children are swimming, always make sure there is adequate adult supervision.
2. When having guests over at your house, if you don't want their children accidentally ending up in the pool, make sure the back door is locked, or that their parents are aware of the pool, so that the children don't wander into the backyard unattended.
3. Keep a cell phone or portable land-line phone near the pool when it is in use.
4. Make sure at least one adult or teenaged family member knows CPR
5. Don't swim alone.
6. Don't swim if there is thunder or lightning in the area.
7. Don't allow large beach balls or floating rafts into the pool if there are a lot of people.
8. Keep decks clutter free.
9. Make sure sunbathers don't lay too close to the pool's edge, so that no one will trip.
10. Don't allow diving if you don't have an area deep enough to accommodate it.
11. Don't allow children into the deep end, or into water that is over their head, unless they can show they have adequate swimming skills.
12. Enforce occasional time out periods to give kids a brief rest period.
13. Make sure the pool is lit at night, and have a clear view of the pool from inside your home. Check periodically to make sure no neighbors have snuck into your pool without permission, or worse.
14. Make sure the automatic vacuum is removed from the pool before allowing anyone into the pool.
15. Lock up pool chemicals when not in use.
16. Make sure extension cords, appliances, and other electronics are not near the pool.
17. Make sure babysitters can swim and that they know CPR.
Enforcing safety precautions may seem mean or overbearing to your kids, but they are necessary. If everyone is safe, then everyone has fun. If you find your children balking at the rules, help make them part of the solution. Show them ways to look out for their younger siblings and their friends. If they are responsible for at least some the safety, they may begin to see the importance of the rules. Also, if you have an YMCA or some other organization that teaches swimming and swimming safety classes, take advantage of these classes with your children.
San Diego Aquatics Program. Swimming Pool Rules.
Fairfield - Fairfield Crest. Swimming Pool Rules.
Pool Guard. Pool Rules, Resources and Useful Links.