The recent change in weather has many people hopping into bathing suits and into the pool to cool off, especially since the base pools are now open on the weekends. However, along with remembering to put on sunscreen, it's also important for both children and adults to remember pool safety.
At every pool, a list of "pool rules" is posted in an easy-to-see spot. Parents and children should take note of these rules, especially since some rules can change from pool to pool.
Basic rules for Hill's on-base swimming pools include:
*No diving in the shallow end
"We do have some rules up here that are different from city pools," said Mike McMillen, lead lifeguard for the base pools.
For instance, children under the age of 11 must have an adult in the water with them at all times. Adults must actually be next to their children, not on the other side of the pool swimming laps, McMillen explained. Children do have the option of taking a swim test, which allows them to swim alone if they pass. The swim test includes swimming 25 meters and treading water for 30 seconds.
Also, any flotation devices used in the base pools must be Coast Guard approved.
"So, we can't have beach balls, water wings, noodles," McMillen described. "Anything that would have the ability to keep someone afloat (would need to be approved)."
Life jackets -- as long as they are Coast Guard approved -- are fine, he added. Diving toys and small balls are also OK.
"We can't have children under the age of 3 in the (large outdoor pool)," McMillen said. There is, however, a kiddy pool available nearby, he added.
Two lifeguards are posted at the pools here on base at all times, but it is still important for parents to watch their children. Supervision is a must, especially at home swimming pools where a lifeguard is not present, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states.
"Never take your eyes off children in the water -- not for a minute," a CPSC pamphlet says. "Always designate a 'pool watcher.'aa"
Along with keeping an eye on swimmers, the CPSC advises that people with their own personal pools set up barriers that are at least four feet high along with self-closing and self-latching gates. For above-ground pools, it's important to also remove steps and ladders. That way children and pets are unable to wander into the pool area unattended.
Another big danger in swimming pools and spas is drain entrapment. The CPSC states that not only can hair and bathing suits get caught in faulty drain covers, but limbs and even a child's entire body can be held down by suction.
To avoid this hazard, swimmers are advised to stay away from drains or suction outlets and to avoid pools or spas with loose, broken or missing drain covers.
"Children's public wading pools, other pools designed specifically for young children, and in-ground spas that have flat drain grates and single main drain systems pose the greatest risk of entrapment," the CPSC warns.
Since 2008, drain covers must now be compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. "Pool and spa owners should have their facilities inspected by a licensed professional engineer and install Pool and Spa Safety Act-compliant covers," the CPSC says.
Along with following pool-specific rules and supervising children at all times, a few other guidelines given by the CPSC can go a long way in preventing pool-related injuries:
*Learn how to swim. It is a good idea for both parents and children to know how to swim when visiting a pool.
*Teach children basic water safety tips.
*Know how to respond in water emergencies.
*Always secure the safety cover on your spa or hot tub.
*Keep rescue equipment and a phone next to the pool.
Outdoor Pool No. 2, located adjacent to the east side of Club Hill, is now open from noon to 7 p.m. on weekends. The cost is free. For more information on the base pools, please call (801) 777-3471.