PSA: Pools Are Dangerous, But They Don’t Have to Be

Pools are dangerous

On Monday night, when I got home from work I read the most heart breaking tweet from my Twitter friend Shellie (@Military_mom) regarding the drowning death of her two year old son Bryson in their back yard pool (her original tweet has now been removed from her account, so I can’t share it with you).

In that instant my heart broke.  Shellie had just moved into a new house with an inground pool.  I don’t know the exact circumstances surrounding the accident, but that doesn’t matter – the fact is, her two year old son Bryson fell in the pool and drowned.  Shellie and I have tweeted for about 18 mos.  We don’t know each other well – but we have tweeted and she has offered tweets of support over the past while as I deal with my hubby’s frequent travelling. So I find this accident particularly heart-breaking. Her son Bryson was the same age as my daughter Brooke.

Pools are dangerous and accidents can happen very very quickly.  Contrary to popular belief – you don’t “hear” someone drowning.  They slip in with a small splash and sink to the bottem.  A weak swimmer may attempt to swim and make some splashes, but a non-swimmer will simply sink, panic underwater and swallow water.  I’m a trained lifeguard (NLS) – so take my word for this.

Bryson’s death is tragic and a very unfortunate accident.  It also serves as a reminder to us that water of any volume is dangerous.  A person could slip, fall, hit their head and go unconscious – if there is a volume of water high enough to cover their mouth and nose they can and will probably die – they may not suffocate, but they could drown from what is known as secondary drowning – fluid in the lungs.

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

I know it’s winter and pool safety is not the first thing on our minds right now – but because of this tragedy I wanted to write and share this post before I forget.  I also will be republishing this ever summer as a PSA. Have a safe and happy winter folks and please keep my friend @Military_mom in your thoughts and prayers.

PS – Money is being raised to help Shellie and her family pay for Bryson’s funeral.  Please help.  Thanks!

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5 thoughts on “PSA: Pools Are Dangerous, But They Don’t Have to Be

  1. Ouch. My prayers are with her. That’s really sad. I once rented a basement that got rented by a single mother with her 5 year old after I moved out. Unfortunately he slipped in the pool during a BBQ party (when everyone was around BBQing and mingling) and he drowned. I would never, ever, buy a house with a backyard pool. I can’t even imagine what the poor mother is going through right now.
    .-= Zeeshan Hamid´s last blog ..Debt & Retirement! =-.

  2. My heart goes out to your friend, and anyone else who has had to bury their own baby.

    I’d like to add another idea for pool safety. My daughter takes swimming lessons and I see that all the teachers make the kids climb out of the pool on their own when practicing the jumps off the sides of the pool. I think this is a great idea. Instead of the instructors always lifting the kids out, the young swimmers learn how to lever themselves with their arms to pull themselves out. It might be a small detail, but could mean the difference in getting to safety.

  3. Finally a positive blog post to come out of this tragedy. I’m sorry for your friend’s loss. I did not know her but do feel badly that people have chosen to judge her in this, her most difficult time.

    I have a backyard pool and have been meaning to take lifeguarding courses for visiting children. I think your post tonight helped me decide to take the first step in the new year towards doing that.

    Thank you!
    Natalie @YMCbuzz

    1. No problem! I’ve actually had to use my lifeguarding experience in my own pool with my own children. You will be glad you took the course.

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