Recent summers in Australia have been sweltering, with 2014-2015 as the fifth warmest on record. What better way to beat the heat than go to the beach and take a dip in our pristine waters! All well and good, and many of us do just that, but the ocean obviously comes with its dangers, and isn’t always the best place to take babies and young kids to cool off.
Well, how about your own pool? They’re not as expensive as you might think, and besides, it’ll do wonders for increasing the value of your property.
Swimming Pool Ownership in Australia
It isn’t surprising that plenty of households already have pools. Perth has the highest ownership at nearly 18% and Sydney follows with 16%. Well, with Sydney’s housing prices going through the roof, we reckon that having your own pool will help you stay ahead of the game.
This, and the Aussie climate, isn’t the only reasons to build your own swimming pool, according to market research by Roy Morgan. Having kids is also a big draw. Over 15% of households with children aged 6-11 years and more than 20% of households with older kids aged 12-15 years own a pool. Not surprising – kids love to swim! However, less than 10% of households with children under six years old have a pool because “safety is an issue,” according to the company’s group account director, Angela Smith.
Having a baby or a toddler shouldn’t stop you from adding a pool and taking regular swims with your children. There are plenty of ways to make sure they’re safe.
Pool Safety at Home
Start with swimming lessons to help your kids feel more confident in and around water. That’s what we do at Tanya’s Tadpoles, we make swimming fun and enjoyable. Not only will we help build their (and parents’) confidence in and around water, but we’ll develop their skills using tried-and-tested programs, and before you know it, they’ll be up to speed and safely enjoying the pool like all kids should.
If you decide to spend time by the pool, always keep a watchful eye on them and make sure they’re within arm’s reach. Pay attention, and that includes staying free from distractions like talking on your phone or chatting with a friend. Never assume someone else is watching your child!
You, or other adults supervising the kids, must also know how to swim too. If you can’t swim or you just want to hone your skills, you’re never too old to learn. We can make your swimming lessons a family affair!
Essentially, it encourages the implementation of “layered” safety precautions and measures to lessen the risks of drowning. If a certain layer ‘fails’, the other layer might prevent tragic accidents.
You or a competent adult should always be around to actively and constantly look after your kids when they are in or around the water. This is the most critical aspect for preventing drowning. According to Royal Life Saving Society Australia, a total of 26 children between 0-4 years old drowned between July 2014 and June 2015. In all these cases, there was intermittent or lacking of “active adult supervision”.
“Active supervision” means always being within at least an arm’s reach of a child below the age of five years old or someone who does not know how to swim. It also means constantly keeping an eye out for them. It involves not having any distractions, like ringing doorbells or phones, and always being on your feet to quickly respond should the need arise.
This pertains to protective measures such as making sure gates and pool fences are not just in place, but also adhere to the local and national safety regulations. Possible water hazards, however temporary, such as wading pools, should be emptied or put away when not in use.
No items such bins, chairs, and potted plants should be within the immediate vicinity of the swimming area as these could be used by your kids for climbing over fences. Should there be outdoor furniture, these should all be secured or else too heavy for any child to drag or carry.
In case you’ve bought or rented a house with a pool, don’t assume its gate or fence complies with government regulations or is in good working condition. Always check because assumptions can lead to dangerous situations.
There’s only one way to teach your children this (and feel assured of their safety yourself) – enrol them in a swim school. Their confidence doesn’t just lessen the risk of drowning, but it also helps them participate and fully enjoy water-based activities.
Let your kids learn to swim with us, at Tanya’s Tadpoles. As young as five months, they’ll learn to be thoroughly familiar with the water, allowing them to explore and feel comfortable with it. They’ll engage in different water activities, helping them become confident in the water. They’ll also learn fundamental water safety and swimming skills. These include breathing control, floating, submersion, safe entries and exits, turning and back floating, and propulsion using arms and legs. They’ll learn formal strokes to become efficient in covering longer distances.
According to Swim Australia, your kids should be capable of swimming 400m comfortably and reasonably before they’re considered good swimmers. Over time, they should learn rescue skills as well.
Take note that being able to swim well doesn’t mean they are always safe in or around water. Remember that there are numerous other factors that can play a part such as low water temperatures that could lead to ‘cold shock’ and panicking. Fatigue can often be an unexpected danger. Tiredness can come on very quickly and cause a rapid decline in swimming ability. Pre-empting fatigue, especially in unpredictable waters, can be a life-saver.
Always keep in mind that every second counts in the case of fall-ins or immersion accidents. To save precious time as well as lessen panic, have an emergency action plan in place. It helps greatly to stay calm and consider these tips:
- Look into the pool and other areas with water hazards if you notice a missing child
- Keep a phone at the side of the pool and use only for emergency purposes. Be very strict about this because a phone can be both an essential emergency response tool, or, a contributing factor to an emergency should you be tempted to chat or text while you should be supervising.
In case of emergencies, dial 000 or 112 for an ambulance and medical assistance. An operator will talk to you so keep calm to be able to provide clear and exact information. You, or any supervising adult, would be very wise to also know how to carry out CPR should the need arise.
Pool Health at Home
Be ‘sun smart’ too. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before heading outside, and don’t forget to reapply after two hours. Implement rules as well and make these known to everyone, including visitors. Here are some of the most important:
- Leave no bikes or trikes or anything with wheels near the pool
- No running by the poolside or on the deck
- No electrical appliances close to the pool
- Don’t leave toys behind when the pool isn’t in use
Once children start to gain confidence, the urge to dive in usually follows pretty quickly, but they should know some basic safety rules:
- Never dive at the shallow end
- Never dive without checking the water condition first
- Never dive with an inflatable tube or similar pool toys
Finally, always ensure that your pool is clean and chemicals are balanced. Proper pool maintenance is directly related to pool-safety. Cleaning generally requires removing dirt, leaves, and grime that accumulates over time. Remember that the cleaning agents you’re going to use depend on the pool type – whether it’s above-ground or in-ground, the size, amount of dirt or leaf build-up, plumbing, and filtration system. If you don’t have the time to do this job on your own, consider hiring professional pool cleaners, there’s plenty around. Their expertise and equipment will go a long way to ensuring your family’s health and safety.
Seems like there’s a lot of precautions to take into account, but there’s nothing like having all angles covered in ensuring your peace of mind. And when you do, a family pool will become one of your home’s star attractions, and your kids will be ever-grateful you made the decision!
At Tanya’s, we offer private swimming lessons right there in your own pool. Give us a call on 0402 002 902 for a quick chat or go right ahead and book now!