The other night, I looked out of Brooke’s bedroom window while I was waiting for her to finish going potty before bed. As I was looking out, I saw a bird land in our pool and begin to struggle. My lifeguarding instincts kicked in, and I told the kids that mommy would be right back to read stories and tuck them in. I ran down the stairs, went outside, and grabbed the pool skimmer to scoop up the poor bird. By the time I did all of that the bird was lifeless. Thinking perhaps he/she was in shock I gently put it down in the grass and went back to finish putting the kids to bed. (Sorry – despite my background, mouth to beak resuscitation isn’t my forte). After the kids were snug and safe in their beds I went back outside to check on the bird. It was dead – the poor thing drowned in our pool.
You know what shocks me the most? How FAST that happened! I reacted quickly, got the bird out quickly and did all that I could (given that it was a bird). Pool accidents happen VERY quickly and contrary to popular belief a drowning person doesn’t make a sound – there is often no screaming or splashing. I often take for granted that my pool has a separate enclosure from our house, and I don’t often look outside to ensure no neighbourhood children have hopped our fence. Is that my duty as a home owner? I’m not sure and for now I’m thankful that this time it was just a poor little sparrow.
I think, given that it’s summer, the pool safety tips I posted after a tragic accident last winter, deserve to be brought to our attention again:
We all know we should watch our children around pools, that our children should wear life jackets if they can’t swim, to keep our pool gate and sliding doors locked etc… But are you aware of these tips that aren’t so obvious?
- Never, ever leave toys in a pool – these are child magnets, typically a child falls into a pool while reaching for a toy. This includes any pool – wading pools, above ground pools and inground pools. Clean up all of the toys when exiting the pool so these won’t tempt a child.
- Teach your child to lay belly down on the pool deck to reach for toys in a pool. I have an inground pool in my backyard and have taught both of my daughters how to reach for toys. Model this behaviour – when you reach for things in the pool, lay down. The chances of falling in are greatly reduced when your center of gravity is low and children will do as you do, not as you say. (This also applies to those of you who don’t own pools as children visiting a house with a pool often don’t know basic pool safety).
- Keep a working phone on your pool deck. You never ever know when you’ll need to make an emergency call. (I’ve actually dropped one of our phones into the pool while following this advice – hubby was mad that we lost one of our handsets, but at least I was trying to be safe).
- Don’t answer your phone if it rings while you’re on the pool deck with your kids. Accidents can happen in that second when you turn your back to answer the phone – turn the ringer off if it’s too much of a temptation for you.
- If you ever have to rescue someone that has fallen into a pool keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be pretty – jump in and grab them by anything you can grab – their bathing suit, hair etc. The goal is just to get that person out of the pool ASAP.
- Educate your guests. Before allowing your friends and their kids to go into your pool go over some safety rules ie:* Tell your guests to watch their own kids.
* Tell them where the phone is
* Teach them and their children how to reach for objects in the pool
* No running on the deck (this is because you can trip and fall in)
* If you can’t swim wear a life jacket
* Model pool safety
My final bit of advice is so important that it deserves to be bolded and in a paragraph of it’s own:
Please do not put a pool in your yard, or buy a house with a pool without taking a lifeguarding course. Swallow your pride and join the 18 yr olds at your local community center and learn some pool safety, learn how to rescue submerged victims, perform A/R, CPR and some basic first aid. Why live with a ticking time bomb in your backyard without learning how to detonate it? The cost is minimal compared to the cost of a human life. You will learn a ton about pool safety that will eliminate the need to ever do a rescue.