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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

May 31, 2021, Tiffaney Isaacson
Pool Party Means Pool Safety

Arizonans know what it takes to thrive in some of the hottest temperatures in the US.  We automatically scope out shade in parking lots, drink water by the gallon, and celebrate every summer holiday poolside.

When you see me at a pool party, you won’t see little ones with me, because my kids are all grown up now. But since they were babies, it’s been my job to help families make sure pool parties are safe.

Pool safety is a top priority because the numbers show we have a serious problem in Arizona. Children between the ages of one and four years old are the highest risk age group in the US for drowning. Here in Arizona, children in this age group are drowning at nearly double the national rate!

Pool parties can be high-risk events for drowning. Crowded pools make it hard to see children.  Distractions are everywhere. We visit homes without a fence around the pool.

When I go to a pool party, I look for things you might not expect:

  • I don’t worry about what’s on the menu, but I do encourage parents to keep it simple. The less time you spend worrying about food prep, the more time you’ll have to focus on the fun.
  • I like to know who’s “boss.” Of the pool, that is. The “Pool Boss” is an adult who is charge of watching a child, or children, when they’re in or able to get to the pool. When more than one child under age five is present, have plenty of adults to do this job. This person should be able to swim, arm’s reach from the child.
  • When one adult takes over for another as the Pool Boss, I want to see and hear the change being announced. This helps us to know exactly who is watching which child.
  • I look for a basket at your pool area where cell phones can be stored. This makes it easy for the Pool Boss to avoid being distracted while on duty. If you limit the job to 15 minutes at a time and take turns, supervision can stay fresh.
  • A fashion (and safety) must: properly fitted US Coast Guard-approved life jackets (which looks like a vest). Inflatable arm floaties are just toys. Puddle jumpers (cushioned arm-floats that connect across your child’s chest) are swim aids that can make your child more comfortable while he or she swims. You can begin to use a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket for children at age one. Life jackets never replace supervision, but they help children keep their face up out of the water and research tells us they have saved lives.
  • I love the food and drinks on the summer menu. If you have enjoyed too many margaritas, I want to see you asking other adults to be the Pool Boss. And when we’re ready for burgers, I want to see an adult check the entire pool area before going to eat. Children sometimes go back to the pool when adults are distracted at mealtimes.

For more tips on water safety, visit our Water Safety Program site or call 602-933-1712.

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