Swimming is a great way to relax, to get fit, and have fun. But a swimming pool can be a dangerous place, unless you are aware of the safety rules.
Read the information on safety in and around swimming pools, and you and your family can relax and enjoy this popular leisure activity.
The majority of incidents in and around swimming pools involve children and young people – they are the ones who need to take care both in and out of the water.
Basic Pool Rules
Most swimming pools post a list of rules for bathers, and these should be checked and advised to any children you are supervising. The Basic Rules usually include –
- No running
- No diving except in the designated area
- No horseplay
- No eating or drinking in the pool area
- No loud noises, shouting or whistling
- No swimming until at least one hour after eating
- No glass in the pool area
Most, but not all pools have a lifeguard who will maintain a watchful eye on the swimmers. They are not there to take responsibility for your swimming party – they remain yours to control and keep safe, even if that means that you can’t go and enjoy yourself on this visit.
Make sure you know the swimming capabilities of all the swimmers in your party. If you have young children and / or non-swimmers, make sure they know to stay in the shallow end, and at which point they will be out of their depth, and that they stay within their safe area.
If any of your party, including yourself has a medical condition such as asthma, advise the lifeguard on duty so that they can keep an extra lookout for you. If you do have any potentially dangerous medical condition, do not go swimming alone, take at least one companion with you.
Young children who are new to swimming pools will gain confidence in water if they are allowed to stay in the paddling pool, or shallow area, or a designated toddlers’ pool where they will not be splashed or bumped by experienced swimmers.
If you have a baby, it is perfectly OK to take them swimming. Babies have no natural fear of water, and swimming at an early age gives them confidence in the water, but remember, they have certain requirements to make their visit enjoyable.
- Babies find it hard to regulate their temperature, so make sure the pool is nice and warm, and don’t keep them in too long.
- Make sure baby is wearing a swim-nappy to avoid ‘accidents’ in the pool. If baby does ‘leak’, or vomit, inform a member of staff immediately.
- Watch for chemical reactions on the skin – a baby’s skin is more delicate than a child or adult’s skin so make sure there is no reddening or rash. Make sure you wash baby thoroughly in warm clear water before dressing, and take moisturiser for application after washing.
- Don’t take baby swimming with an infection or a cold – it’s no fun for them, and the infection or cold will spread to other bathers.
Recreational Water Illnesses
Remember, as well as the risks that you can see, there are risks you can’t see – Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI’s), the most common of which is diarrhoea.
The reason why diarrhoea is the most common RWI is because the germ that infects bathers with diarrhoea – Cryptosporidium, or Crypto for short, is resistant to chlorine and similar germ-killing chemicals for several hours, and it can be found in even the cleanest best-maintained pools.
To minimise the risk of infection, ensure that no one swims with uncovered cuts or abrasions, and try to insure that the amount of pool water swallowed is kept to a minimum.
If your holiday hotel has a pool, it will probably be cleaned and disinfected at night, so avoid the temptation for a late-night dip – you may be harmed by strong chemicals in the water.
Be aware of any games or recreation that may take place near the pool area after dark. If the pool is not fenced or covered, you will need to keep an eye on your family to ensure no one takes an unintentional dip!