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ask: Pool safety for young kids and toddlers...Need your advice!

By Alison Beaver
 
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I would love others input on this.

My in-laws have a backyard swimming pool, and watch my son (he's 2.5 years old) one day a week. They also watch their other two grandchildren (my son's cousins), ages 7 and 4, occasionally.

My husband and I am preparing to have a conversation with my in-laws about pool safety, as we're not sure they are on the same page as us.

The 7 year old cousin thinks she can swim (she can't without floaties), does not listen well to authority, and I am afraid of her opening the back door and my son following his older cousins into the pool. I can not even THINK about what could happen.

I have talked with my in-laws about installing a door lock high on the back door (just a simple chain lock) that the kids can not reach. However, they were not interested in doing this last year, so I'm going to try the conversation again. Even if I "win" this time, I'm not there to enforce that the door is always locked, and only an adult may unlock it every single time.

What measures, as a concerned parent (who would like my son to spend quality time with his grandparents) should I negotiate versus stand firm on?

My preference would be to have a pool gate installed (my husband and I would even pay for this), but they are not open to this idea.

Are there pool covers that could prevent a drowning?
What other physical barriers/safety measures are available that work?

I realize the best plan for safety is prevention, and we will begin a series of talks with everyone involved; first my in-laws, then my brother-in-law and sister-in-law...to make sure we're all in 100% agreement...then the kids will be brought in to understand rules, expectations and consequences.

Even with these talks, assuming they all go perfectly well, I am still afraid of a cousin disobeying rules (happens frequently), and their consequence may be a timeout...what if one time the consequence is more severe (the 2 or 4 year old falls into the pool). I do not want to be overbearing or paranoid, but this could happen so easily. What is the balance of being respectful and not going overboard with my demands. What can I expect them to do as physical barriers?

Sorry this ended up being so long...I'm just trying to figure out what to do with this scenario, and would love to hear from other parents and those that own pools in their backyard.

thanks!!

Add a Comment13 Comments

garfieldlogan

A number of safety measures can be taken, but most importantly I would say is an automatic swimming pool cover. As long as the pool is covered when an adult isn't watching, accidents can be kept from happening. I have a pool in my own back yard and I hate to think what would happen if I left the cover off and sent my toddler out to play.

March 31, 2011 - 8:07am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

A number of safety measures can be taken, but most importantly I would say is an automatic swimming pool cover. As long as the pool is covered when an adult isn't watching, accidents can be kept from happening. I have a pool in my own back yard and I hate to think what would happen if I left the cover off and sent my toddler out to play.

March 31, 2011 - 8:04am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I think that I am probably on the same page as everyone else here in that I believe that there should definitely be several precautionary measures taken to ensure your child's safety while he is with his grandparents. There are different types of ways to keep kids safe: check them out at www.poolsafe.com .

September 23, 2010 - 9:38am
Alison Beaver

Hi everyone,
Thanks for your comments!

My husband and I talked, and are on the same page as far as our expectations with my in-laws/his parents, so we'll be talking with them together. I agree that normally we would have my hubby talk with his own parents, but we want to have a united front on this one.

Just a clarification: they do have a lock on both of their back doors, but the problem is: it is usually kept unlocked because one of them is outside; the other is inside and they don't want to lock the other person out. That's understandable to me. Same with a lock high up on the door--I could "talk them" into this, but I'm not 100% sure that it would remain locked every-single time---habits die hard, and they would leave it unlocked while it is just the two of them at home, and then easily forget to keep locked while grandchildren are visiting (and...it does only take once).

It's nice to have options, and I am looking into safety products that cover the pool, just one more physical barrier. I'll look into the homeowner rules/codes...good idea!

And yes, if they can not agree to our expectations and safety rules, then my son will not spend time over there without myself or his dad present. They LOVE seeing my son and they love spending time with him (oh, and no need for daycare; I just can grocery shop w/o a toddler..that is pure heaven!!).

Bottomline: we all agree that my son's safety is #1, but disagree on the degree of safety measures that are required around the pool. I will change my schedule without hesitation to be with my son at their house, if that's what it takes (hee hee--that might make them change their minds!) :)

thanks---and I'll post again with the conclusion!

April 26, 2009 - 6:37am
franinfl

I'M NOT REALLY UNDERSTANDING ON WHY THE GRANDPARENT'S WOULDN'T PUT A LOCK ON ANY DOOR THAT GOES TO THE OUTSIDE. THESE ARE THERE GRANDCHILDREN AND YOU WOULD THINK THEY WOULD WANT TO PROTECT THEM IN ANY WAY. IF IT WAS ME, I WOULD SAY PUT ANY SAFE LOCK ANYWHERE THAT LEADS TO THE OUTDOOR'S OR IF YOU WANT TO SEE YOUR GRANDCHILDREN ,THEN YOU'LL HAVE TO SEE THEM AT MY HOUSE AND FIND ANOTHER FAMILY MEMBER TO WATCH HIM. I GO THROUGH LIFE ALWAYS WORRING ABOUT MY KID'S. LIFE IS ONE BIG CHANCE. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. IS THERE A REASON WHY YOU HAVE THE GRANDPARENT'S WATCH HIM? WHAT ABOUT DAYCARES? DOES YOUR SON'S COUSIN'S PARENT'S THINK THE WAY YOU DO?

April 25, 2009 - 10:04am
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide

Hi Alison

I agree with Diane. If your inlaws are not open to the necessary pool gates, then you may need to rethink your son going over on that day - he can always go over once a week with you or his Dad.

This is just too important to risk. I love my inlaws but I would never allow my kids over to their home if they had a pool and did not take great caution. It really only does take two seconds for a child to panic. They won't drown in two seconds but panic indeed sets in that quickly which leads to...I think we all know what it leads to.

Since it's your husband's parents, have him talk to them. It's not worth 'keeping the peace' only to really, really regret it later. Thousands of kids die every year from accidental drownings - no one can be too careful.

Good luck with this and keep us updated. I hope you can work it out so that you are all happy but regardless, your sons safety comes first.

April 24, 2009 - 11:42am
Diane Porter

Alison,

One of the best campaigns for pool safety I ever heard was in Phoenix one summer quite a few years ago. It was called "Two Seconds is Too Long," and they named it that because time and time again, when firefighters would respond to a child drowning, what they would hear from the person watching the child was "I was just away for two seconds." It was heartbreaking in a city that sometimes lost a child a day in the summer.

So I completely applaud your proactive stance on this. And honestly, I believe that if the combination of talking, agreeing, enforcing and physical barriers can't be improved enough for your peace of mind, that perhaps you need to consider whether he should stay there during pool season for that one day each week. At least while he's this young.

May I ask why your in-laws were opposed to a lock high on the door? It seems like that's the best and easiest way to just plain prevent children being outside without adult supervision. I assume that they felt the pool gate would be unsightly (I disagree; we had a pool surrounded by an iron fence and it was still beautiful), but I'm not sure I understand what the objection would be to a safety lock.

One home we had was quite near a pond that we couldn't fence off (we were near a golf course). My nieces and nephews were very young at the time and I was worried, like you, that somehow they'd get out there -- all it takes is once -- and someone would fall in. We installed a small alarm high on that door that went off if it was opened without turning it off first. Basically it functioned as a second lock, because it required a tall person to turn it off before opening the door. I tell you what, the one time a kid actually did open that door, we were all down there lickety-split. It worked!

I hope you can find a solution to this that makes you confident to leave your son with his grandparents -- I'm sure they have a very special relationship.

How does your husband feel about all this?

April 24, 2009 - 10:28am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Hi Allison!

There are a few things out there that might help resolve the problem, without causing too much friction with the in-laws either!

There are many swimming pool alarms, gate alarms, and even child alarms that can help alert a responsible adult if a child enters the pool area. Some of these are: http://www.safetyturtle.com , http://www.aquasonus.com , http://www.aquaguard-pool-alarm.com/, and http://www.poolguard.com/door-wireless.asp

Not sure if the swimming pool is an above-ground or in-ground pool. If it's an in-ground pool, then a child safety fence is an option: http://www.poolfence.com/ , http://www.protectachild.com/ and http://poolbarrier.com/ are just a few.

Also, what alysiak said in the last post is worth looking into - There ARE safety barrier regulations mandated by each municipality.

The in-laws will hopefully understand that what you are trying to do is out of love for them and for your children. I don't think they could imagine being responsible should something tragic happen. .. .

Best Wishes - Feel free to contact me if you need additional advice.

Michelle Forchetti
Fiberglass In-Ground Pools and Spas by Trilogy Pools

April 23, 2009 - 6:32pm
alysiak

Hi, Alison:

You might check your local building code and homeowner's association codicil, as it may be a requirement to have a child-proof structure around the pool. City ordinances may also be enforceable. Therefore, your in-laws may have no choice but to comply.

I grew up with a pool, but we always had a responsible person watching us.

I don't blame you one bit for being concerned! I hope your family can come to a happy and safe solution.

April 23, 2009 - 4:42pm
Shannon Koehle

Alison-

Growing up, my family did have an in-ground pool with a high gate that locked. Additionally, even with the gate, my brother and I were not allowed to play outside without adult supervision.

Most importantly, my parents introduced us to the pool at young ages and took swimming lessons as soon as humanly possible.

Gates, locks, and constant supervision are the best methods to prevent accidents.

Good luck with you talks!

April 23, 2009 - 1:06pm
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