The festive season is fast approaching and many South Africans are getting ready to head to their summer holiday destinations. This means that the school holidays will be here and more and more families will be spending a lot more time around the pool, as well as open waters.

Swimming is a big part of our South African culture. There is nothing better than having a braai around the pool on a warm summer day, surrounded by our family and friends.

However with the recent numbers of drownings all over the country, we urge you to take good care of yourselves and your loved ones while doing any water activities to prevent fatal accidents from happening. In combining responsible parenting with good pool safety, this will ensure that swimming is a fun activity where nobody is harmed.

Make your pool child-friendly this summer with these practical safety tips to keep kids safe during the festive season and all-year round:

  1. Always have an adult nearby and never allow a child to swim without adult supervision or leave a child unsupervised near a pool or any form of water. Designate an adult to be the person who will be responsible to watch over the kids to protect them from any pool accidents.
  2. Always keep your pool covered with an acceptable pool cover when you are not swimming. Check swimming pool covers regularly for safety and replace them as soon as you see any wear and tear.
  3. Do not assume flotation devices are a replacement for supervision or to fully rely on them. Children should wear a life jacket if they cannot swim as air-filled arm bands get small holes in them, causing them to deflate and your untrained children to possibly drown.
  4. Barricade the pool area with adequate fencing or a high enough wall which little climbers can’t climb over. This wall should have a safe security gate that has a secure, self-closing lock on it, that is well out of reach from young children. The security gate must also have close-knit gaps so small kids can’t push through. Barriers include audible gate alarms that will alert parents immediately from anywhere in the house if the gate is unlocked.
  5. Don’t allow the pool level to drop. Make sure that your pool’s water level is always topped up and high enough, as it will assist small arms to quickly grab the edge of the pool, if required.
  6. Avoid common pool accidents and apply non-slip materials to all surfaces in and around the pool, such as diving boards, ladders, steps, decks and bricks. Also store away or secure any ladders or ropes that can urge a child to climb from the ground into the pool.
  7. Sign your kids up for swimming lessons and sanction your children to become more comfortable in the water. Spending money on swimming lessons is an investment for both you and your kids and can save your children’s lives. However, always remember that children still need to be watched closely while around the pool, even if they know how to swim or are taking lessons.
  8. Establish non-negotiable pool rules that everybody needs to follow – not only the kids – and repeat them to your children as often as possible. Adults should behave morally well in front of children to set a good example for them to be able to know how to behave. Set solid swimming rules such as; no running or diving in the pool area, do not go near the pool area without an adult present, or all toys need to be put away when they are not being used, as toys can attract young kids to the pool.
  9. Educate your kids on what to do in an emergency and keep any rescue gear near the pool like a telephone with emergency contact numbers readily available, as well as a well-stocked First Aid Kit. Click here for our basic safety and first aid article.
  10. Make sure that all persons on the property know CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)! This includes: babysitters, au pairs, domestic workers, grandparents, older siblings and any caretakers, and teach them about the potential pool dangers that can happen to young children. Never hire a person who cannot swim to take care of your child! If a child is found drowning, get them out of the water immediately and initiate CPR. Learn here how to perform CPR Click here.

Lastly, teach your kids to always wear sunscreen and to have fun, while practicing strict pool safety to help prevent any tragedy from striking over the festive summer season.