Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pool Safety: Always keep an eye on your child

Saturday was our first day home after a month away.  We decided to take Connor down to the pool as he's not been able to swim regularly when we were away.

The adults' pool has a smaller jacuzzi pool attached to it. There are steps within the pool leading to this shallower area and a ledge that runs along the side where you can sit in the jacuzzi and relax while the jets give you a massage.

A child can walk in the water on the ledge and have fun with the jets too.  This is what many parents with small children do.  The problem with the ledge is that parents sometimes forget the younger ones can slip off it quite easily.  Once they do, they can get into trouble as the little pool is almost 1m deep and you're not quite 1m tall unless you're 3yo++.

On Saturday, I was sitting on the sun lounger watching Connor swim with Dear Hubby close by him.

Two other children were playing in the jacuzzi pool.  The boy was probably about 5yo and his sister must have been 1 1/2.  Both couldn't swim as they were both wearing swim rings earlier but they had taken them off and put them by the side of the jacuzzi so that they could walk easily along the ledge.  With them was a man who I guessed was their grandfather.

For some reason, the man went out to the middle of the adults' pool and called them to follow him after they'd gotten their swim rings.  The 5yo stepped off the ledge into the jacuzzi pool and went to get his swim ring.  His sister followed suit but immediately got into trouble as she was below 1m tall AND didn't know how to swim.

Neither my husband nor the other 2 women who were reading on the sun loungers realised the little girl was in trouble.  Dear Hubby was too busy watching Connor.  The 2 women were reading or dozing.  Her older brother didn't see her as he was wading out to his swim ring.  The old man didn't know too as his view was obstructed by others in the pool.  I didn't realise the little girl had stepped off the ledge either until I noticed her head was below water and she wasn't coming up.

"Shit!"  I immediately leaped off the lounger and jumped into the pool.  I scooped up the little girl and put her by the side of the pool.  She couldn't even burst into tears at first.  She only started crying after she'd coughed up some water.  She hadn't been under water long.... I dunno... maybe 15-20 seconds?  Children have a instinctive ability to hold their breath if they're accidentally pushed under water so she didn't take in that much water.

What was scary that her grandfather, my husband and the 2 women only realised what had happened after she started bawling.  What was scarier was that this is the second child I've pulled out that way, the second child who'd inadvertently stepped off the ledge as she forgot the rest of the pool was deeper and the adult responsible had just happened to look away.

Parents, when your kids are around water, please, please, please keep your eye on them at ALL times and don't leave them.  Non-negotiable okay.  If you want to read a book at the pool, then please leave the kids at home.  Or ensure there is someone else watching them.  Even though Connor can swim, I still never take my eye off him when he's in the pool, even when I'm chatting with friends, and I never let him go in the pool alone.

Don't think that they'll be safe if they have swim aids.  I have personally witnessed a child get into trouble in the middle of the big pool as one of her swim arm bands came off.  Her mum didn't notice because she was reading on a sun lounger quite a distance away. I wasn't too far away from the child but wouldn't have gotten there in time as I can't swim and it would have taken time for me to walk in the water to her.  Luckily there were bigger kids swimming nearby and they'd spotted her and quickly swam to her rescue.

Don't assume other adults at the pool will be alert and on hand to help.  As last weekend's episode showed, out of the 5 adults nearby, only I realised the girl was in trouble and even so, it took me probably half a minute to realise it.  What if I'd been reading a book too?  I don't want to think about that.

Safety first, people.


  1. Wowzer!! Good thing you were paying attention! I think a medal from the city and maybe a cash award is in order!

    1. Just doing what I hope other adults would do if my son were in that situation. I'll never forget the horror I felt when I realised that her head was under water.