Summertime and everybody heads for the backyard pool. It’s every kid’s dream and every mom’s nightmare! We don’t want to ruin the fun of summer. But how do we let them have fun and at the same time keep them from ending up in the ER with stitches in their head -- or worse?
Nobody wants to be called a spoil sport or a mean mom. Wait. That’s not quite true. The answer to allowing the dream while preventing it from becoming a nightmare is actually to be just that -- a mean mom, a Mean Pool Safety Mom!
What is a Mean Pool Safety Mom? The concept is the result of a meeting between two San Diego moms, Mean Mom’s Club President Maureen LoBue and The Pool Safety Mom Mary Ann Downing. Each has the same goal: Take charge to keep kids safe by setting realistic boundaries and enforcing those boundaries. A Mean Pool Safety Mom knows the ABCs of drowning prevention, and follows three simple steps to create and enforce a safe summer in the water.
These three steps are built on the two most critical focuses of a mean mom: safety and structure. Mean Mom’s Club: The Mom’s Rule Book, a reference guide to becoming a take-charge mom based on these two focuses, translates perfectly to becoming a Mean Pool Safety Mom.
The President of the Mean Mom’s Club is prepared to deputize all moms as Mean Pool Safety Moms by following these three steps:
First, know what safety means at different stages of development. “See ‘em to save ‘em” should be the underlying theme, adjusted for each stage.
- Toddlers: Keep them from hurting themselves as they start to venture out on their own in their physical world. Keep toddlers away from danger -- the street, the stairs, the stove, and especially the pool. Keep that pool closed any time it’s not supervised and follow touch supervision: “If you can’t reach them, you can’t save them.” Toddlers are faster than a race car driver on the Indy 500. So, keep them securely away from the pool and within arm's reach in or near the pool.
- Pre-school kids: Allow them to use their imagination while keeping them in reality when it counts. The pool safety rule “never swim without a grown-up” is key, with the supervising adult in or by the poolside. Mary the Pool Safety Mom recalls pre-schoolers in beginner swim lessons nodding, yes, they would jump in like a lifeguard to save someone. A Mean Pool Safety Mom knows that no matter how many lessons, no child is drown-proof!
- School-age kids: Give them guidelines for how far they can venture out not just physically, but also socially. Every kid knows the fire safety rule “stop, drop and roll,” but the pool rule they seem to remember is ”don’t pee in the pool." Explain water safety rules clearly, such swimming only with an adult, and enforce them without fail. There can be no idle threats. When a friend dares your kid to jump over his little brother, he should respond with “No way! You can’t get away with anything with MY mom!”
- Teenagers. Keep them from situations that will require them to make judgments they’re not ready for. When the friend says it’s OK to go in the pool without an adult, it is tempting to follow along because of peer pressure and because teens see themselves as omnipotent; accidents won’t happen to them. Well, accidents do happen when teens do dumb/stupid things, like dive into shallow water or off the waterfall. When teens are injured others may not even realize the person is hurt or the extent of the injury.
Second, set boundaries to keep them safe. Pool safety requires layers of physical barriers and protective boundaries. Building code often requires, and experts in drowning prevention recommend, a fence that separates the pool from the house, a pool safety cover, and alarms.