60% of Parents Say Their Kids Can’t Swim—Here’s How to Prep Your Pool for a Safe Summer
An Olympic swimmer and dad shares his checklist.
Published Jun 10, 2023 1:32 AM
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When he was 5 years old, Cullen Jones almost drowned at a Pennsylvania water park. That kind of experience might instill a phobia in most people, but thanks to his parents’ swift response to enroll him in swim classes, Jones went on to become a four-time Olympic swimming medalist. For that reason—and the fact that more than 60 percent of parents say their kids can’t swim (according to a recent survey from the Harris Poll)—Jones has become a water-safety advocate. Ahead of leading the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson on June 22 in partnership with Leslie’s, Jones shared some of his top tenets with us. His three best pool-safety tips? Maintain healthy water, ensure a secure area, and, of course, encourage lessons as soon as possible. “It’s my belief that kids are naturally inquisitive about water—whether that’s a backyard pool or the ocean,” Jones says. “It’s best to teach them to swim and be safe around the water than to instruct them to avoid it and hope they listen.” In the meantime, here are three investments to make stat.
Put Up an Enclosure That’s Not a Total Eyesore
Jones emphasizes that it’s important to secure pools when not in use with fences, gate locks, alarms, and safety covers. But who says security can’t look good? In this Mediterranean-inspired Australian home, the pool area is blocked by sleek glass panels that keep wandering toddlers out of danger without obscuring the view. Note: Gate regulations vary by area (some require self-latching barriers; others will dictate that it’s at least 4 feet high). If you’re unsure, have a look at this state-by-state breakdown before you start shopping.
Install a (Loud!) Alarm
For extra peace of mind, install an alarm. It’s important to know that some sound off if the gate is opened, while others monitor the water itself to scan for disturbances, such as a splash from someone falling in. Our top pool alarm pick does the latter, and best of all, it’s made to be heard inside the house (although it’s so sleek-looking you’ll forget it’s even there).
Keep It Clean
Even if your family knows how to swim, you’re not totally in the clear—literally. Anything from a poor pH to an algae attack can turn your pool from crystal to cloudy overnight. Jones says regular testing is crucial to maintaining the proper water balance for safe swimming. Start by keeping a kit on hand, and have your best algicide or vacuum at the ready to ensure a fearless summer of fun.