Published on June 20, 2024

Keep Kids Safe at the Pool This Summer

By Mackenzie Morris for Mind & Body

Mackenzie Morris

About a week ago, I saw a social media post circling around Facebook that struck a chord with me. It's common to see these types of posts around the summer months when people are reminded of traumatic aquatic events that have happened to them, their children or even affected families they know.

This story goes back to the summer of 2016 when little Anna had just turned four. The mother of Anna explains how two weeks before Anna died, she was already stressed about taking her three children to the pool all by herself. On the day Anna died, she was not stressed at all. The reason was that she wouldn't be the only adult watching her three children today. Her husband, sister, brother, sister-in-law, and even lifeguards were there to help keep an eye on her children. Anna's mother let her guard down.

Something that Anna’s mother said in this post is very simple but very true, “If everyone is watching the pool… then no one is watching the pool.”

I’m sure you can recall many occasions when you and your family planned a pool day and invited other family members and friends to join. I'm sure there were many responsible adults around to be able to keep an eye on your little swimmers in the pool. I’m sure you can recall how much more relieved you felt because you had the help of your family and friends to ensure the safety of your children. I'm also sure that during these times when you think you have all the help you need, a situation (whether land or water-related) has still happened — possibly a first aid situation or a distressed swimmer in deep water who can't find their way to a ladder, wall or steps for safety.

All this to say, regardless of where you are or who you are with, water is dangerous, and we should view it as much. This doesn't mean you can't have fun in the water, but you need to respect it and always be careful. Assigning a water watcher or even making sure you verbally tell someone to be responsible for the children in the pool when you need to take a break is a must. As a parent at the pool, never let your guard down. Unfortunately, letting your guard down at a busy pool with attentive lifeguards and responsible adults can lead to a fatal drowning, just like it did with Anna 8 years ago.

I want to leave you with a few regarding water safety this year:

  • Lifeguards and rules are in place for a reason.

Growing up, I viewed lifeguards as rigid and rude when all they were trying to do was keep their pool safe. Please inform your children to obey all rules that lifeguards enforce. Lifeguards are not trying to be rude or yell at your children because they are "bad"; they enforce the rules to provide a safe environment for all swimmers and patrons. Please remember this the next time a lifeguard gets on to your children for running around the pool, horse playing in the water, etc. Whenever I certify lifeguards for the community pools, I tell them that a good lifeguard will never have to jump in the pool to save anyone because they use their preventative actions so well. The more they prevent, the less emergencies will occur. So please, once the lifeguard blows their whistle and says not to do something, all parties should respect it and not do it again for the child's safety.

  • Bright Colored Swim Suits

I've mentioned this before, but please be mindful to get your child neon-colored bathing suits in pink, yellow, orange, etc. Stay away from blues, skin colors and even black swimsuits. The bright color of your children’s swimsuits can help lifeguards and parents keep a better eye on their children when swimming. Blue, skin-colored and even black suits can get lost at, near or under the water's surface. When lifeguards scan the pool, neon colors like the ones I listed above are easier to spot and keep a vigilant eye on.

  • Adult Supervision

Adult supervision is needed when going to the pool with little ones. This tip may seem redundant, but it can't be stressed enough. Even if you think your little ones are strong swimmers and you are not even 10 yards away from them, at least one adult needs to be within arms reach of your children at all times. As stated above, if you need a break, please verbally assign a water watcher for your children.

These are just three tips for water safety, but there are so many more to keep in mind. If I could leave you with anything, it would be to remember the story of Anna and how this tragic event could have been prevented. Never let your guard down, and stay prepared and preventative when it comes to being around water. Even if lifeguards are present, you must take those extra steps to ensure everyone has a safe and fun day at the pool.

Mackenzie Morris is the aquatics supervisor at the Owensboro Health Healthpark. 

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital; Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center; the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 350 providers at more than 30 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a weight management program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have more than 19,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 33,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 150 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 90,000 Emergency Department visits and more than 1.25 million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.