Nothing beats a little sun and a good swim to get your mood up. On a hot summer day, taking the kids to a swimming pool can feel like a vacation for the busy parents, especially new parents who didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into and that are now fully aware of the importance of letting the children blow of some steam by engaging in physical activity.
However, all that energy the kids have and the excitement can often lead to unpleasant situations and injuries.
Public swimming pools and water parks are places that tend to get somewhat crowded during the summer, the floors are wet and slippery and the children are overexcited, which means that the chances of someone getting hurt are higher than normal. It’s now exactly a war zone, but some precautions should be taken and the kids need to be instructed in proper swimming pool etiquette if you want to have a pleasant experience.
Preparing for the trip
If your children can’t swim yet, you should provide them with some safety equipment, i.e. a flotation device. Even kids who can swim will benefit from having something like a big inflatable ball, animal, a small inflatable boat or a swim tube. Some of the essentials will include:
- Small balls
- Swim floats
- A kickboard
- Diving mask/swimming goggles
- A snorkel
- Rubber slippers
- Some first aid supplies
- Snacks and drinks
Your main concern at this point is having everything ready, especially the sunscreen, floatation devices and some first aid essentials like gauze and disinfectant for cuts and scrapes.
At the swimming pool
If the kids can’t swim you can sign them up for swimming lessons and relax as the trained staff will take care of them. If you are just there to have some fun and everyone knows how to swim, then you should pay closer attention. Some general rules are:
- Don’t let anyone near the water until they’ve put on their sunscreen
- Always have an adult supervising the kids, both in and out of the pool
- Running or going anywhere (e.g. to the toilet) unsupervised should be strictly forbidden
- There should be no fighting in the water
- Be very careful around the edge of the pool as it is easy to bump the head on the edge and go under
- A lot of swimming pools don’t allow jumping into the water, but even if they do small children shouldn’t be allowed near high diving boards
Putting sunscreen on everyone and explaining some ground rules should be your first step. Everyone who is good and follows the rules gets ice cream and anyone who is naughty and doesn’t follow the rules gets to spend an hour on the towel while the other kids have fun in the water.
Also you want to be on the lookout for troublesome kids. No matter how well-mannered and polite your kid is, not all parents are good at their jobs and you will often see some spoiled brat crying and pointing a finger at someone while calling mommy in an attempt to pass the blame for an incident, others can become violent and punch or push another child into the water over an argument. The best way to keep your child out of trouble is to have them stick close to you.
It is understandable that a small injury might occur when a child slips, or bumps heads with another child, but sometimes serious injury (e.g. a broken arm or concussion) can occur as a result of negligence on the part of the authority figures at the pool (a lifeguard might be sleeping on the job or talking to a pretty girl instead of keeping an eye on the kids) and you will have the right to sue. Personal injury lawyers need to be consulted in such cases to see if you have a right to get compensation, but you should always immediately write down all the details and look for witnesses that can confirm your story. These types of injuries are rare, but I have found some legal info here
Swimming pools are not that dangerous and they have very competent staff working there (most lifeguards are very capable, diligent and polite), but you will still have to be prepared for some of the possible dangers.
If you pack everything you need, explain the rules to your kids and keep an eye on them everything should be fine, but remember to write everything down if something does happen and you suspect the injury was caused by poor safety measures and negligence. It will help prevent more accidents. Have a nice summer and stay safe.