Questions About Pool Safety

Received Saturday, July 18, 2009
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I was wondering if anyone has any advice about pool safety. The family I work for is having a pool put in and it will be finished by next week. I'm sure I will be sitting down with the parents to talk about it sometime soon. I've taken the kids to the community pool and the beach and I have water safety training, but i've never actually nannied with a family that has their own pool. I guess i'm just wondering how many friends over is too many, if I have to go to the bathroom is it everybody out of the pool area completely or can they just sit around it, things like that. I take care of four girls ages 2 1/2, 6, 8 1/2, 10 1/2. Any advice would be appreciated!


nannydebsays said...

This is JMO, and I may be a little hyper about water safety, but...this is what I would expect of myself if I were in your position, and what I would want as a parent with 4 kids under 11, a pool, and a nanny.

Pool should be fully safety gated. Any doors that lead to the pool directly or indirectly need to be alarmed so that they cannot be opened by a child without an adult hearing. It wouldn't hurt to have a hotel-room-like security latch as well, to slow down the younger kids.

You need to become a certified lifeguard, as well as keeping your CPR and First Aid up to date. (I would suggest this is a good idea for ANY adult who will be supervising these kids.)

Pool rules:

No running. No pushing. No children in the pool unles you are in the pool. Bathroom break means everyone goes inside and the alarm is armed until potty time is over. Break a rule, and pool time is over for the day for ALL kids.

Any child who cannot pass a Red Cross or similar water safety test must wear a safety vest in the water unless an adult is next to them and able to focus only on THAT child.

Friends are welcome, as long as there is an adult other than YOU in the water with them. IOW, no drop off pool dates.

And never, ever, ever, ever do kids stay in the pool area unsupervised. Ever.

Bloomfield babysitter said...

Great question OP

You are already responsible for 4 children and one quite young. Any others would need to have their own adult supervisors present. You simply should not be expected to supervise any more than 4 kids at a time in the water.

If you need to go to the bathroom it should be everyone out of the pool, in the house and the pool secured until you get back.

If I were you I would talk with the parents and establish ground rules and procedures. Then a family meeting is order to make sure the kids all get it as best as their age will allow.

If you don't have CPR certification and first aid now is the time to do that.

Good luck!

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

Oh, and have your cell or a (fully charged) portable phone close to hand at all times.

sd said...

I am a nanny for a 2 and 4 year old who have had a pool in their backyard for their whole lives. I think the deep end is like 12 feet or something, and has a diving board.

There is a gated fence around the entire pool. You have to pull the poles out of the ground (difficult for me, no way a 4 year old could do it) plus be tall enough to reach the latch at the top. There is no way to climb this fence either, it's like a really hard mesh.

However, these kids can swim. The 4 year old can full swim under water, dive in, swim to the edge, tread water, etc. The 2 year old is learning but she wears a swim suit with built in flotation devices, there is no way to take them out either (nor does she want to) so it's all very safe.

I make everyone go potty before we even put swim suits on. If you don't go potty, we don't go swimming. They do have a little potty outside for the 2 year old because sometimes she will need to go in the middle of swimming. If I need to go, I usually just hold it. Kids that young don't really like to be in the pool for hours upon hours anyways, they get tired/hot/hungry etc.

I also try to bring some snacks/drinks outside with us so I don't have to run inside. I have permission to run inside if I need to and leave kids in pool - but I rarely do unless it's just running right inside the door to grab something (still have full view of pool)

I would DEFINITELY recommend the swimsuits with the float devices for the little ones.

If it's just the older kids that are like 9 or 10 - honestly if they know how to swim, they should be fine for a minute on their own, say if you have to tend to one of the little ones.

It all depends on each child's knowledge of swimming and the water.

Emma said...

I agree pretty much with the posts. I would bring a cooler outside and some snacks (that way if one kid gets hungry/thirsty) not everyone has to leave. Friends should be ok as long a parent/nanny accompanies them. If you have to go to the bathroom, everyone should be out (unless u have another adult that will watch them for a minute or 2). You should have an alarm system if the gate is opened u will know. Just make sure whatever rules and consequences you make are mutual (between u and the parents) and make sure to stay consistent.

geekgirl said...

Have the kids had swimming lessons before now? By the time I was 8 or 9 or so, I was a pretty good swimmer and allowed to swim in the lake (family belonged to the waterski club) without my mom being right there at the shore. Until 8 or 9 if there wasn't an adult directly watching, I had to wear a lifejacket. And no swimming alone; I always had to have a sister or cousin with me.

The younger two need stricter rules about supervision. Whether you make them just get out of the pool or leave the entire pool area is probably a factor of how obedient they are as much as anything. It might seem unfair to have two sets of rules, but it's the way life is. The older girls probably have later bedtimes and other privileges as well.

If the older girls have friends who are also good swimmers, I don't thinking having 2 or so extra people would be an big deal. I would limit the number of younger guests at the same time, unless there are other people to help watch them or all of the young kids are wearing lifejackets.

Something to consider, depending on the parent's comfort level, is a pool camera, you could monitor from the kitchen to run in and grab a snack or a bandaid. Depending on the rules, you could use this to keep an eye on the swimmers, or to make sure they stay out of the water until you get back, etc.

Julie said...

As a former Nanny who cared for children ages 4 & 6. I refused to allow swim play dates while I was there. I only worked 4 hours a day in the mornings during summer months so this was never a problem.

I totally agree with the other posts.

As a Mom with a pool in our yard now. My son can only have a friend come over to swim if a parent comes with that child. I do not require that they actually get in the water but they need to be in the back yard.

ericsmom said...

I don't think its safe for any child or adult to be alone in a pool. Even if a child is 10 or 12 and you have to run in the house, I would make everyone get out.

And as an adult I never liked swimming alone. You never know, what if you bumped your head. Or had trouble breathing. If someone is with you, at least they can call for help.

CuriousDad said...

I like the idea of the Nanny becoming a certified lifeguard, especially as you can carry that with you from job to job. Maybe you can ask the parents to sponsor you (IE pay for it) for a class?
As far as if you need to go into the house for anything. The kids need to get out of the pool area then since they are so young. If you set the ground rules from the get go you will have less of a hassal in the future when you find out the rules are really needed. You can always relax a too restrictive rule easier then having to enforce new ones.

You can't be too careful said...

I think CuriousDad makes a great point- since the pool and pool rules will all be new, err on the side of caution and start out with very strict rules to ensure everyone's safety. As everyone gets used to using the pool and becomes aware of pool safety, you can relax the rules depending on the kids' swimming abilities, and how comfortable you feel, etc.
If you end up having children over as pool playdates without their own supervision, I would honestly make their parents sign a waiver, for your own protection and that of the family.

sd said...

The waiver for playdates coming over to swim is a great idea!! You don't want to be held responsible if their parent is not going to stay and supervise them.

Also I wanted to add that make sure you and the parents are on the same page regarding pool rules. If this is a new pool it will be too confusing if you have one set of rules and the parents have another. There will be way too much "Well my Mommy lets me!" and things like that.

I have a strict "NO RUNNING" rule when I am there, yet their Mom seems to never tell them that. Also one person on the diving board at a time. It can be really hard to switch them to my rules but I don't care if they have a hard time with it or don't like'd rather that then they crack their head open while running on wet cement!

Jane Doe said...

I think you should contact resources in your town and take a lifeguard training class. I supervised children from months old to eighteen at family pools, resorts and in oceans and never had any problems, even with multiple playdates. If the children don't respect you or listen to you; I wouldn't take them near the water. I was definitely a hard ass about pool and water safety. With regard to your specific question about how many children is too many; it depends on the swimming skills of the children involved. And most importantly don't take on anything that you are not comfortable with, when it's a question of safety, better safe than sorry.

interestedparty said...

The swimsuits with built-in flotation is good for the youngest. I would ask the parents to arrange swimming lessons for the kids (perhaps while you're there) if they haven't had any--even the older ones, so they learn swim safety in addition to swimming. As everyone has said, make sure you understand the rules and the kids know the rules and will follow them.

Wow, ericsmom, do you drive your car alone in unpopulated areas? Cause you're much much more likely to be harmed while driving than while swimming in a pool. You could fall down your stairs and hurt yourself badly alone in the house...and yet, I imagine most people don't arrange to have another adult with them in their homes at all times. I'm all for safety for kids and being aware as an adult, but I can't follow you with the adults not swimming alone thing. I'd recommend that anyone who is that worried personally, though, should go to a gym for swimming, as you'll always have others present.

DenverNanny said...

It may sound like over kill, but make sure the parents talk to their insurance agent before having any pool play dates. We had a pool growing up and my parents purchased an umbrella coverage just in case a child was hurt. Waivers might work, but the parents (as homeowners) and the nanny could be held accountable if some one gets hurt

mom said...

nannydeb says it all...and very well. I would also suggest they put a fence with a locked gate around the pool.
I would not allow other people to drop their kids off for you to babysit in the pool, ever.

Anonymous said...
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pizzaz said...

Um, unless the parents are total idiots, I would assume their pool is up to code, does have a fence around it and their nanny is already CPR certified.

If the above isn't true, run for the hills.

mom said...

I mean an additional fence inside the backyard (a backyard must be fenced to code when there is a pool in most, if not all, states), specifically to isolate the pool from children who may wander from the house into the backyard. The main fence protects the public. The interior fence protects the children who live in and visit the house. It can be unsightly...but it's worth it until the kiddos are grown up a bit more. (They now make mesh fences that can be removed when company leaves for those who have grandchildren, or frequent child visitors....which I plan to install when the time comes...ugly though they may be.) There are just still too many drownings each year where the parents say, "I just walked out of the room to get some groceries out of the car," or "We always keep the patio door locked. She should never have been able to get into the backyard," or, "I fell asleep and the kids somehow got into the backyard" (which happened near here last year and TWO toddlers drowned under dad's care.)
Door alarms, pool alarm and a separate fence...I would have nothing less in a house where my children lived. When they were small, I did not even allow my children to have playdates (unless I was there) at homes where the pools were unprotected...which a surprising number are. Stupid. There was one family we knew that "compromised" by putting a very, very low fence around their pool (like low enough that a kid could stand on a Little Tykes chair and get over it) because mom insisted on a fence but dad didn't want his backyard to look ugly. NO play dates there either...especially there, because their stupid fence gave them a false sense of security.

Just Me said...

The lifeguard certification course costs 300.00 and up and recertification costs 150.00 and up. It is not that easy and will require several full days to complete. It's not needed. However all the other things mentioned in the above posts are.

No one should ever swim alone. All sorts of things can happen to people of every age and physical ability.

I would not aloow swim play dates unless the guests adult guardian or parent is present.

ericsmom said...

Interested Party

Because driving a car alone is something you have to do. No choice in having an adult with you. More likely if your in an accident on the road in Public people will see it. And if you need help someone (hopefully) can call the police etc.

Yes, you can fall down the stairs and get seriously hurt. But falling down the stairs is not like falling in water. You can't drown from falling down the stairs.

Swimming is a luxury not something you have to do alone. What if you slipped in the pool. Bumped your head. No one is around to get help for you. More likely you can end up drowning.

Thats my opinion. You don't have to agree. And if you swim alone fine. Not my problem

DesertDive said...

i don't really understand why parents don't teach their kids about water safety anyway. I grew up in the desert and everyone had a pool, most weren't fenced in at all. We would wander through peoples yards and never had the slightest desire to go swimming. Our parents taught us not to go swimming unless there was an adult around. When we were 8 we were allowed to go swimming without an adult at the pool but inside the house. Even at two we knew better, we never had the slightest urge. But then again kids have gotten less intelligent and they don't behave like they should.
To answer your question:
Teach the oldest child about what to do if someone is drowning. Don't panic and never jump in after them. Keep a life preserver near by to throw to the drowning victim and always keep the pool skimmer by as well to reach to the victim. Teach the eldest CPR just in case. Give the oldest child the sense that they are your helper and it is their responsibility to keep the younger ones out of the pool until you return. A good game is that when you need to go to restroom this is the time that the eldest helps the younger ones put on another coat of sunscreen. Or hop out of the pool for a popsicle. Once you return and they are done with their snack then they can go swimming again. There are a lot of tricks to keep the children out of the pool while you are gone. I highly doubt that you need an alarm... that is really kina going over board. Just make sure that the pool gate is always closed and locked and also that the bars to the gate are closed enough so that a small child can't push through. It is recommended that you keep all the doors locked that lead outside, this will deter little ones from escaping. The older children should know better. If they want to have friends over they can as long as you are out there to watch them. And ask permission from the other parents of course. If you teach the kids up front about water safety they won't be as infatuated with the pool. but if you still don't feel comfortable then don't let them swim at all. Safety first. And you obviously know, no running around the pool, and eating before swimming thing is a myth. just realize which kids are not strong swimmers and keep floaty toys in the pool for them to grab onto. I think those are the basics of pool and water safety. As long as they are aware of the rules and you are a smart conscious person it should be ok.

op said...

Thanks so much for all the advice! The older three have all had swimming lessons and I am certified in first aid and CPR. I am comfortable watching 1-2 other children, I just don't want it to turn into a neighborhood free for all at the pool!

There are already two different sets of rules for the house, so i'm kind of thinking that it will be the same for the pool!