I found myself getting very hot under the collar recently when I read the findings of a survey by Teletext. The survey reported that 24% of people had rated cleanliness as their biggest holiday fear compared to 16.5% said swimming pool safety and 13.9% who rated balconies/general safety.
It’s not that I don’t care about cleanliness, I care very much indeed but having come so close to losing a toddler in an unenclosed pool you can imagine that swimming pool safety is subject that is pretty close to my heart.
In fact so much so that swimming pool safety is one of the key reasons that www.totstotravel.co.uk exists in the first place. For the record, no property makes it onto the site unless the owner has some sort of pool barrier. So when you are thinking about booking a family friendly holiday, do give considerable thought to pool safety.
Here are my 8 tips to keeping your brood safe around the pool:
1. Always book a villa or resort with a pool!
As a mum of 3, I simply wouldn’t book a family holiday without a pool. Even knowing the risks. It’s the number one greatest source of fun and entertainment not to mention an extremely valuable chance to teach your children water confidence. It’s also a key and memorable feature of a family friendly holiday. When I ask my children what their favourite holiday memory is, it’s always a favourite swimming pool!
2. Choose a pool with a barrier
If you’re renting a family friendly villa
then choose a villa with a swimming pool safety barrier of some sort. An alarm is not sufficient, more of that in a minute. By a barrier, I mean some form of physical way of keeping your children away from the swimming pool whilst you are not there to supervise.
This could be a hard pool cover, a swimming pool safety net or a fence. In some cases it’s not necessary for the entire pool to be fenced as there may be walls that prevent access from other directions. It might be sufficient to fence off a patio and it might be that the barrier is detachable.
There are some excellent solutions now that allow the barrier to be removed when it is not needed.
Pool nets and hard pool covers (ie those with a motor) are very good forms of swimming pool safety. Villa Amalia
on the Algarve in Portugal
is an example of a pool that is kept secure using a pool net, enabling you to keep your children safe without spoiling the aesthetics.
There are all sorts of rules and regulations about swimming pool safety depending on which country you are looking to visit but what is critical is that the pool has some barrier with a lockable gate that prevents an inquisitive child finding a way to the pool. It’s your holiday too and you should be able to go to the loo or make a cup of tea without losing a child in the water.
3. Avoid a pool with an alarm
Pool alarms are a popular form of pool protection but are open to misuse. They get switched off, develop a fault and bleep continuously. Moreover, the alarm is sounded when a certain weight (e.g. the weight of a child) hits the water. To my mind this is too late, you could be some way off and the child is in the pool. My advice is to avoid a pool with an alarm altogether unless the alarm is a secondary line of protection.
4. Be vigilant, keep gates shut
This might seem stupidly obvious but this is particularly challenging if you are staying in a cluster or a place with a shared pool. Older kids sometimes prop open the gate or simply do not lock it without realising the risk that they are posing for younger children. This is easily rectified and in my experience older children will quickly learn to lock gates once they realise why.
5. No substitute for adult supervision
A barrier only reduces the chances of a child reaching the water and many children drown when there are more than one adult around. This is the case during a group holiday or during a pool party when there is a sense of security because there are numerous adults around. Plus children can even drown whilst there are adults actually in the pool.
What’s required is a designated adult, actively watching the children at all times and then handing over to second adult to do their stint.
6. Swimming Lessons A Must
Swimming lessons are extremely important as is water confidence and holidays provide the best way of getting plenty of hours in the pool. Even once a child becomes fairly confident it’s still important to have an adult supervising them.
As their confidence grows so does their attitude to risk and the diving and water bombing begins. I think some of this is necessary in order to develop their ability to judge risk but it needs careful adult management.
7. Pool Toys
Pool toys are part of what makes a pool lots of fun but do be aware that they are not a proper safety flotation device. They can also mask what’s going on at the bottom of the pool so make sure you haven’t got so many toys that you are unable to see the bottom. When it comes to armbands it’s important to keep an eye to make sure that the children keep them on. In my experience children aren’t particularly keen on wearing them and will slip them off.
8. Remove temptation – Empty the pool of toys
When you have finished in the pool, do take all the pool toys out of the water and preferably out of sight. It can be too tempting for a child to see something floating in the pool and to try to reach it. Helping you to have a safe, family friendly holiday is our top priority which is why all our villas are selected and inspected for child safety. This means that when you are browsing the website you know that we’ve covered off all the family basics
and can choose the villa that you like the most.