Swimming pools can be a fantastic place for families – somewhere to have fun and splash about, as well as introducing children to water in a controlled environment. While accidents in public swimming pools are thankfully quite rare, there are still precautions you should take to ensure your little ones stay safe. To help you, we’ve made a list of answers to some of the most common questions about public swimming pools:
How old should my child be before I take them swimming?
Taking babies and young children swimming early is a great idea. Contact with water helps build their confidence and can be a great place to start teaching them about safety. The Amateur Swimming Association advises taking a baby swimming to a warm, well maintained public pool from the age of six months. Before this age, splashing around in the bath is probably the best way to get them used to the water.
How old should my child be to start swimming lessons?
It’s now generally accepted that children can learn to swim at any age, just as long as they’re comfortable and confident being in the water.
The important thing is to find a qualified swimming teacher. Often pools will offer specific classes for babies or toddlers, so it’s worth asking. Check with your nearest swimming pool or look online to find good local classes.
When will it be ok to leave my child alone in the swimming pool?
Never when they are a child. Each pool will also have policies about swimming ability and age or height restrictions.
What kind of swimming pool is best for my child?
Leisure pools with slides, flumes and rapids etc. can provide a more stimulating environment for children, but generally will be more suited to older children who are confident in the water and have some swimming ability. Supervision of children at leisure pools is more difficult, particularly during busy times with a lot of children engaging in different activities.
Does my child need armbands?
Both armbands and swim jackets can be helpful for children learning to swim. Ensure that your child is wearing the correct size, as the amount of buoyancy in each aid will vary according to size. It’s also important to remember that children can remove jackets and armbands in the water very quickly, so weak swimmers should always be supervised.
Is it safe to bring toys to the swimming pool?
Inflatable rings and inflatable animals can be fun at the pool, but those that require a child to hold onto them for support are only suitable for children that have some swimming ability. Again, they should only ever be used while you are there to support them in case they slip. Always check first with the pool if they allow toys.
Are swim seats a good idea?
Be wary of swim seats for very young children. Like bath seats, these can give you a false sense of confidence. They can tip over, or children can wriggle their way out, so it’s important never to leave a child unsupervised in such a seat.
Paddling pools can be great fun during the summer. However, it’s important to always watch toddlers while they’re paddling, and to always empty the paddling pool straight after use. Also, be extra aware following periods of heavy rainfall, which could potentially re-fill a paddling pool, or cause other unexpected puddles.
If you’re lucky enough to have a swimming pool in your garden, the advice is similar to garden ponds: ensure it is surrounded by a fence with a self-closing gate. Again, it’s vital that, if using the pool, children are never left unattended, even if you consider them strong swimmers.