By Jackie Burrell
Friday, May 22nd, 2009 at 6:51 am in Health & Safety.
Headed for a pool this weekend? Lifeguards are certainly important, says aquatic safety expert Jill White, who wrote “StarGuard: Best Practices for Lifeguards,” but parents need to pay attention when their little ones are in or near a pool. “Lifeguards are not baby-sitters,” says White. “Parents and guardians should not leave children unattended, and preschool children and non-swimmers should be directly supervised – within touching distance – by a responsible adult.”
Be particularly aware, she says, when you see any of these red flags, because they’ve been associated with drownings:
- Breath holding contests and no-breather laps
- Large groups of unsupervised children
- Little ones bobbing or wading toward deeper water
- Non-swimmers on a noodle or inflatable
- Non-swimmers at the deep end without a life jacket. Water wings are not safe alternatives.
Be particularly cautious about group pool trips, including parties and day camp outings. “Often group leaders or party hosts inappropriately view the trip to the pool as a chance to relax and turn over responsibility to the lifeguards,” says White. “The energy level of the participants is often high, and peer pressure can encourage children to try activities that would not be allowed under parental supervision.”
So stay safe, wear sunscreen and get in the pool with your kids.