Pool Party Safety

Five girls on floating toys in a swimming pool

Young children are at high risk of drowning. They are naturally curious and attracted to water. However, they are too young to understand the concept of danger, making supervision vital. Children drown quickly and silently, usually without calling out for help.

Supervising a group of children around water, such as at a pool party, is particularly difficult. It may be hard to see all areas of the pool, with pool toys and splashing water impeding vision. Different children have different swimming abilities and you may not be aware of the skill level of each child you are supervising. It is also easy to get distracted by one child, diverting your attention from the other children in the pool area.

If you are holding a pool party, there are some important things to consider:

  • The children at the party will not be familiar with your pool, so explain the rules and layout of the pool to them. 
  • A designated child supervisor is needed, possibly more than one if there is a large group present. The supervisor should wear a brightly coloured ‘Designated Child Supervisor’ hat or similar so they are easy to spot by children in the pool and other adults. 
  • If the supervisor needs to leave the pool area for any reason, the hat must be passed onto another adult who will then assume responsibility for supervising the children.

Q. Why is it important to supervise young children around the pool?

A. Young children are the age group with the highest risk of drowning. They are naturally curious and attracted to water but lack an understanding of the concept of danger. Children drown quickly and silently, usually without calling out for help. It is important that an adult is always supervising when children are in or around water.

Q. Which age groups are most at risk?

A. Children aged 0 to 4 years (or under five) are the age group most at risk of drowning in Australia. However, Royal Life Saving recommends some level of supervision for all children under 15. This ranges from being in the water, within arms’ reach and actively supervising children under five, actively supervising from the water’s edge for those aged 5 to 10 years and regularly checking up on those aged 11 to 14 years.

Q. What are some of the things to consider if you’re planning a pool party?

A. It is helpful to establish some rules for the party (e.g. no running, no pushing) and discuss these with the children before they are allowed to enter the water, as well as explaining the pool layout to the children (e.g. deep end, shallow end, steps or ladders). If possible, understand who the swimmers and non-swimmers are within the group. An emergency plan should be in place in case a child gets into difficulty (calling 000, starting CPR, supervision of the other children).

Q. Is supervising a group of children at a pool party different to supervising your own children while they are swimming?

A. Yes, supervising a group of children can be difficult, particularly if you do not know the different swimming abilities within the group. Between pool toys and splashing it can be hard to see all areas of the pool. You can also get easily distracted by one child, which may divert your attention from the remaining children.

Q. What is the best way to supervise children at pool parties?

A. If there a small number of children, designate an adult who will be responsible for supervising them in the pool. If there are a large number of children, multiple supervisors may be needed so that a supervisor can be stationed in each area where children will be playing. Each supervisor should wear a ‘Designated Child Supervisor’ hat or similar and if a supervisor needs to leave the area, they should pass the hat onto another adult who will take over and assume responsibility.

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