Happy New Year! I hope that all of you had a wonderful holiday break and rang in the New Year with family, friends and lots of good cheer.
My family flew to Naples, Florida to visit my In-Laws. Recently retired from chilly State College, Pennsylvania, they purchased a home on a golf course complete with a gorgeous pool and Jacuzzi. Anticipating our arrival, my Father- in Law had graciously heated the pool to a balmy 86 degrees, knowing we would likely spend most of our time in it.
Shortly upon settling in, I did a quick scan of the backyard and assessed any potential hazards and dangers the pool may present. We call it “mapping” the pool. Here is what I looked for:
-Pool equipment/ chemical storage ( was it out of sight/ reach of my toddler)
-Emergency shut off switch for all pumps
-Type of materials used in the pool and deck ( travertine tile deck, tiles in the pool- any broken tiles, chips, holes, rough patches)
-Where were the filters located ( your kids may call them the “toy boxes”, as instructors call them at Floaties)
-Where were all entry/exit points
-Pool depth/ changes in depth ( 3 ft to 5 ft)
-Spa jet circulation patterns
-Were there appropriate covers on all pool drains? ( Yes)
-Was there any rescue equipment on desk and easily accessible. ( Nope)
-Was there an alarm from the door leading out from the house to the backyard? ( Yes)
-What other hazards or “attractive nuisances” could my 14 moth old get into? (plants, rocks, Christmas tree decorations on the plants outside- just to name a few)
Now this may seem like a lot, but it only took me about 5 minutes. After getting Avery suited up, we spent the evening enjoying the pool and hot tub- which we kept at 90 degrees so that Avery could spend the majority of her time playing in a smaller space. She loved it, as the seats went the whole way around, allowing for Avery to walk around the hot tub and play.
The next day, my Mother-in-Law gave Avery a bunch of floating pool toys to enjoy. Well, of course as they floated around the pool, Avery wanted to play with them. I’d watch her toddle over to the very edge of the pool deck, squat her tiny bottom down, stretch out and grab the pool toy floating right along the edge of the pool. After a few successful grabs, I took all the toys and put them away. I also began teaching her that if she wants a toy, she can get Mommy or Daddy, or at the very least, lay down on her belly first to reach in (much like we teach the students here at Floaties) to get the toy.
Well, when its 85 degrees all day, and every activity is pool side- from eating, watching TV, or splashing around in the pool, SOMETHING is bound to happen. Earlier in the week I told my husband that I predicted that Avery was going to fall into the pool fully clothed. Sure enough, on Day 4, both my MIL and husband were watching Avery playing around the pool desk. A toy floated by and of course she wanted it. She walked over, squatted down, reached to grab the toy – and PLOP!! Head first into the pool she went. Within seconds my husband was there to fish her out. He later told me he was surprised at her ability to hold her breath, remain calm and right herself (back float). I was proud that both my MIL and husband stayed very calm, and when they set Avery on the deck, all she wanted to do was get back in the pool.
The rest of the trip went by in a wet blur, but in talking to my husband, he confided that he couldn’t believe how fast it happened, and that even with 2 adults watching her like a hawk, accidents still can happen. Here at Floaties we try to arm our students with tools to avoid potentially hazardous situations, and self-rescue skill should they get involved in one. I am not ashamed to say that even an “aquatic professional” with years of knowledge, tools and training is above an aquatic mishap. I am happy that my husband is now more aware than ever that accidents happen in seconds and we are giving our daughter a wonderful gift when it comes to being comfortable in and around water.
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