by Steven J. Weil, Ph.D., EA, LCAM
Royale Management Services, Inc.

Summer is the time when grandchildren come to visit and to enjoy the pool, but what mother of a young child would argue that you can’t take your eyes off a child for a minute?Girl at pool

It’s important to pay attention to pool and water safety, especially when it comes to children. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Every day about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the U.S.” Florida leads the nation in drowning deaths, and it’s the leading cause of preventable death for children 1 to 4 years old.
Small children can drown in as little as one inch of water. It’s best to teach 4-year olds to swim.

Yet many associations have eliminated age and other restrictions form their pool rules. This is because the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against families, and certain restrictions have been grounds for lawsuits and claims of discrimination even though the restrictions were intended to protect the children. Except for senior community pools, associations cannot prohibit children from using swimming pools, establish adults-only pools, or establish adults-only swim times.

That’s one reason why it’s more important than ever for parents, grandparents and other adults who are responsible for children to make sure that they set rules to protect their children from the dangers that exist when children and water meet. Even a child who is a good swimmer can get distracted, hurt and drown. It can happen in the blink of an eye.

There is no substitute for active supervision. Responsible adults need to make sure that children are always supervised when in or around pools and other bodies of water. That supervision means more than just being in the area. It means knowing exactly where your child or children are whenever they are at the pool or around the water.

Just because age restrictions or a requirement for adult supervision for minors has been deleted from the pool rules, responsible adults can still make common sense rules and apply them to their own children and grandchildren.

Here are a few questions to ask about child safety and about your association’s pool area:

• Are you using a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) for your child? (Water wings or noodles are fun toys but not totally reliable for flotation.)

• If there are several adults and children swimming, do you prevent lapses in supervision by designating a specific time period for each adult to accept the supervisory responsibility?

• Is there a fence with a gate around the pool area to prevent a child from wandering in unsupervised?

• Are the pool drains compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act? Do they have covers? Go to: www.PoolSafety.gov for a list of manufacturers of certified covers. Do you teach your children not to swim near the drains?

• Is there a first aid kit at the pool? Is anyone trained in first aid?

• Can anyone perform Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)? Local hospitals, fire departments and recreation departments offer CPR training.

• Is there an automated external defibrillator (AED) nearby? Has anyone taken a class and learned how to use it? The Red Cross offers classes.

As managers, we want everyone to enjoy all the association’s amenities, including the pool; but, more importantly, we want everyone, especially the children, to be safe.