by Rob Cox, June 16, 2011
How to Host a Safe July 4th Pool Party
Having a pool party this summer? It's one of the most fun uses of your swimming pool. Birthday parties, graduation parties or something more adult, everyone loves to gather pooside. In most settings, the swimming pool is a natural draw for people, big and small.
If your pool is a party pool, or if your house draws a crowd, especially the young, give some thought this year to keeping your pool safe from tragedy during festive times. It seems inconceivable, but drownings can occur in less than 30 seconds and are usually not accompanied by cries for help. Drowning is Silent.
It takes so little time to add several Layers of Protection around your swimming pool. Your guests will appreciate these attentions to detail, and you'll be able to have a better time at your own pool parties, knowing that your guests are safe.
1. Hire a LifeGuard: Notice that I didn't say "designate" a Life Guard. Better to hire a person to watch the pool - like a hawk. Sooner or later, some designated lifeguards end up joining the party, or being called away from the pool. Check with local swim clubs, swim teams, ymca's or other community pools. Offer a good wage of $15-20 per hour for their full attention. No texting by lifeguards allowed. Staff a lifeguard for no longer than 4 hours at a time. When the lifeguard goes home, close the pool, and keep a close eye on the pool to make sure it stays closed and unused.
2. Close the Diving Board: Place a chair or traffic cone on the board to discourage drinking and diving, which can easily result in showing off, followed by injury. If you do allow diving, follow standard diving board safety rules, and have a lifeguard stationed to keep a close eye on the diving area. By all means, don't allow any diving in areas not suited for diving. Posting some fun, colorful party signs, like "NO DIVING HERE, FOOL!" gets the message across. If your guests start heading to the top of the slide or even up to the roof to practice their diving, revoke their pool pass!
3. Watch the Children! Place cute signs on the doors leading out to the pool ~ "Is your CHILD in the POOL?" or stronger signs for kids "Swimmers under age 14 must be with an adult to use the Pool". Your guests will be happy to help keep an eye on the young ones, and the pool. A great ice breaker as you introduce your guests to the pool, is to ask them "...help me keep an eye on all these young ones, ok?" You'll be surprised at the cooperation if one person is reminding all the pool party guests to be watchful. If the pool is off limits to youngsters during your parties, anytime of the year, use swimming pool alarms on the pool and/or door alarms on the points of access to the pool.
4. Use the pool safety line: You know the blue and white rope that stretches across the pool, to separate the shallow and deep ends of the pool. Well, almost no one uses these anymore, but they are an essential piece of safety equipment for a pool party. It's easy for non-swimmers to find themselves in water deeper than they can stand and then begin to panic. The pool safety line gives a visual no-man's land to the non-swimmer and also a safety rope to grab onto if necessary. It also helps to separate a diving area from other swimmers.
5. Know the Pool Rules: Keep order in the pool, and limit the number of swimmers. Any more than 20 swimmers in a regular sized in ground pool may be too many, and the more swimmers there are, the more restricted the rough housing should be. Swimming Pool Games are a fun way to keep order amongst a dozen or more swimmers, and can provide hours of safe fun for young swimmers. Oh, and remember, No Swimming until 30 minutes after eating!
Have a great pool party this 4th of July, and do all you can to keep your guests safe. Every Independence Day, our nation loses several dozen people to drowning. Most of them under 5 years old, followed closely by drunk 18-35 year olds. Let's bring down this number this year.