Pool Safety Tips: How to Keep Kids Safe as They Dive Back In

Public pools are back open in the D.C. area, so it's time for parents and caregivers to brush up on pool safety tips

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After a summer with no outdoor public pools, it's good to hear splashing and laughing again. But parents and caregivers should stay aware that swimming skills may not be so fresh.

Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and D.C. outdoor public pools are now open for summer after COVID-19 shut down many last year.

D.C.'s Department of Parks and Recreation Director Delano Hunter says 2020 was the first time in maybe 70 years that outdoor pools did not open.

They've been busy prepping the pools to make it a safe space for swimmers.

“I have a 5-year-old. He hasn’t been in the pool in two years. Right? It’s likely, although he has had lessons, that many of those lessons may not be top of mind. So, we are going to retrain him and have him take classes again,” Hunter said.

Here are tips for keeping kids safe in the pool.

  • If the pool you go to has a zero-entry feature — where water gradually deepens, like a beach — it's best to take those first steps in there. It allows you and your child get acclimated to the water.
  • If you're at a pool with no lifeguards, knowing CPR adds an extra layer of security. Find a course through the Red Cross, or D.C. offers certifications and free awareness courses.
  • Encourage using lifejackets, especially for small children and weak swimmers. Check the label to make sure it’s U.S. Coast Guard approved and has appropriate size and weight limits, the Red Cross says. (Everyone should wear lifejackets in open water or during water sports).
    Free life vests will be available and encouraged at the 21 outdoor pools D.C. will open this summer.
  • Supervision is going to be key this year. If you normally head to the pool with three or four kids, bring an extra adult.

Drowning is fast and silent. It can happen in as little as 20 to 60 seconds. If you are unsure if someone is struggling in the water, call out to them. If they don't respond, get help immediately, Consumer Reports says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports drownings are a leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 14. Kids age 5 to 17 are more likely to drown in natural water, such as ponds or lakes. Here are seven things you may not know about drowning.

Lifeguards will be keeping watch, but like so many pools across the country, D.C. is affected by the nationwide lifeguard shortage.

“Until we are fully staffed with our seasonal lifeguards, we are going to blend with both our year-round lifeguards that normally work our outdoor pools,” Hunter said. “Many of them have been working with us for 15 to 20 years.”

If you have a teen interested in becoming a seasonal lifeguard, there are still free training sessions available in June.

D.C. pools are open weekends only until June 28, then they open six days a week.

D.C.’s 36 spray parks are now open every day.

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