Infants and toddlers can add plenty of life to your backyard swimming pool scene! The sensory element of water offers an exciting way for them to explore their natural world and plenty of potential benefits for their physical and mental health. However, young children also create some unique challenges for your pool environment. As long as you consider the extra safety risks and do what’s in your power to mitigate them, your pool can be a safe and happy place for your family and friends of all ages.
Children under age 4 are most at-risk of drowning. While you might think that natural beaches would pose more of a threat, drownings are more likely to occur in private swimming pools than any publicly accessible recreational water source. In addition to making sure your pool is surrounded by a safety fence with self-latching gate, you can make sure little ones stay safe from drowning by ensuring they’re always within arm’s reach of a supervising adult whenever they’re within the pool area. Pool floats can be helpful in giving babies and toddlers more independence in the water, but they’re no substitute for careful supervision.
In addition to those steps you can take to help prevent drowning, it can also be helpful to make sure you’re prepared in case an incident does occur. You and other adults in your social network can take a class from the Red Cross or another organization, so you’re prepared to respond to various poolside emergencies by learning basic First Aid/CPR/AED. If a child does drown, the biggest key in giving a child the best chance for survival possible is to immediately begin CPR and rescue breaths.
Second to drowning, an infant-specific issue to consider is the potential for exposure to bacteria. The reason this is especially of concern when little ones are in the pool is that there’s potential for leakage from their diapers. While we recommend requiring swim diapers for any kids not yet potty trained who use your swimming pool, these diapers will not eliminate the possibility for contamination. At best, they’ll keep solid fecal matter from entering your pool; but they can’t keep bacteria from leaking out. Especially if diarrhea occurs, all swimmers can quickly become exposed to a variety of RWIs, or Recreational Water Illnesses, such as Crypto.
We highly recommend having pool policies that disallow anyone who has had diarrhea within 24 hours from entering your pool. We also suggest requiring diapers to be changed somewhere other than the area surrounding the pool and having diapers disposed of properly. Also encourage young children to use the rest room frequently and everyone using your pool to wash their hands thoroughly after using the rest room or changing diapers.
An added way you can help your baby avoid exposure to bacteria that does enter the water is to keep him or her from swallowing pool water.
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