When we think about staying safe in pools we tend to think mostly of public swimming pools and recreation areas, but home pools have almost as many dangers for small children. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission lists residential pools as the second leading cause of accidental death for children under five, and over 4,000 under fives are treated in emergency rooms each year for water-related accidents.
Home Pool Safety
They are scary numbers, but you can stay out of those statistics by following these basic pool safety measures at home:
- Make sure there’s always at least one adult on pool-watching duty when children are playing in the water, and that the adult knows it’s their turn.
- Never leave children alone in the pool, not even for a minute.
- Even for a quick trip to the bathroom, get the kids out of the water and take them indoors, or assign someone you trust to watch them.
- Learn CPR so you know what to do in an emergency.
- Because accidents also happen easily around wet pool edges (even kiddie pools set up on grass), keep a first aid kit handy. Include treatments for insect stings or bites and sunblock, as well as adhesive bandages for cuts and scrapes.
Public Pool Safety
All the safety measures you’d take at home also apply to public swimming pools, even when lifeguards are on duty. Personal behavior, or that of others, isn’t the only danger around pools though, as there are various infections you can pick up.
Pool cleaning methods such as correct chlorination, filtration, and proper pH levels all do their part to keep us safe, but not even these can kill all germs that spread in water. Most infections affect the digestive system and cause sickness and diarrhea, or skin infections that lead to rashes or blisters. Sometimes, using too much chlorine can also cause skin problems.
Mostly these infections, while unpleasant at the time, are not dangerous and will clear up on their own. Some infections can cause serious side effects however, such as breathing problems or dehydration. If you’re at all worried or symptoms are severe, a visit to the emergency room may be called for.
Since germs are microscopic, there’s no real way to tell if pool water is clean so we need to take sensible precautions just in case. Germs can quickly take hold if unclean water is swallowed, or if young children put contaminated objects in their mouths.
Taking these easy precautions will help keep you (and others) safe from infection:
- Don’t go swimming if you or the children have a stomach upset.
- Always wash hands with soap and water after visiting the bathroom.
- Avoid changing diapers at the poolside.
- Take children to the bathroom regularly to prevent accidents in the water.
- Avoid swimming in any pool where the water looks cloudy or where you suspect maintenance is not very thorough.
- If you see feces in the water, notify the lifeguard or management.
Great Places to Go Swimming
Having got the health and safety stuff out of the way, we’re free to have a great family time swimming in some of the excellent Houston pools. We’re blessed with plenty of safe, clean facilities where you don’t need to worry too much about health, although for the sake of safety you should still keep one eye on children at all times.
Colonial Park Pool
Great for all kinds of entertaining water activities, whether you want to get some serious swimming in or just lounge by the poolside. Fun stuff to do includes testing your balance with the lily pad crossing or having a go on the drop slide. Memberships are reasonable and the pool is open at various times every day. The concession area is where you can relax in front of the TV or grab a bite to eat when you want to escape for a spell.
Campus Recreation and Wellness Center at University of Houston
Swimming pools are much more fun when you can swim, and here adults and children alike can learn in safety as well as enjoying the excellent pool facilities. If you fancy going a step further than mere swimming, you can also get Scuba lessons and learn to dive.
Kids love the Noah’s Ark pool, which is just recently renovated so there’s even more fun for everyone. There are water slides and safe, shallow water around the ark itself which provides plenty of adventure and exploration. If you have a celebration coming up, you can also book a private pool party.
These are just three of the great Houston pools to swim this summer, with many more nearby. And if you need an extra excuse for spending your free time at the pool, swimming is great exercise.