Pool toys are a great way to get your child comfortable and engaged in the water – and are a fun part of a day at the pool. But with pool toys, as with any part of your pooltime experience, it’s important to remember important swim safety tips to keep kids and grown ups alike safe in the water!
From goggles to floaties, here are some pool toy tips to help you swim safe at the pool all summer. First, let’s go over some swim safety tips that you should practice as a general rule for all of your pool toys:
Rules For All Pool Toys:
1. Check Toys Before Use – Check for holes, cracks, and even bugs when pulling out toys for the pool. Holes and cracks can cause leakage or sinkage and no one wants a spider in their pool noodle!
This is an especially important rule for the beginning of the summer when you are pulling out your toys that have been stored away for the colder months. Lots of things can happen over the winter including damage, rust, and even animals nesting or hibernating… Just a quick but thorough once over can help you make sure your kid’s pool toys are in tip-top shape.
2. Clean All Pool Toys – Like anything kids play with, it’s important to keep pool toys clean to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. And while you may think your pool’s chlorine is enough – think again! It’s important to rinse off pool toys after use and clean them periodically to prevent slimy buildup and bacterial growth.
Remember to take all pool toys out of the pool when you’re finished and keep them in a cool, dry place as well to prevent the growth of mold.
3. Review Pool Safety Before Use – Before your kids are allowed to grab their favorite toy and hop in the deep end, remember to go over swim safety rules with them. Even if it seems like you have the same safety conversation every time you go to the pool, this is important. Repetition will help your kids commit these safety tips to memory.
Remember, to make it a conversation, not a lecture. Ask your kids things like “Now what do we do if we hear thunder or see lightning?” or “What happens if someone has trouble treading water in the deep end?” and listen to their answer, correcting their mistakes and celebrating when they give the right answers.
Now let’s take a look at our top 3 favorite pool toys and how to use them safely:
Pool noodles are a great way for both beginning and experienced swimmers to have more fun in the water. But, as always, it’s important to remember safety tips for these little Styrofoam tubes that can double as a horse, a submarine, a swing, or an eel, depending on your child’s imagination.
- Only one person on a noodle at a time – while they are very buoyant, these noodles are meant for only one swimmer at a time. If kids try to fit more than one on a noodle, there’s a chance they’ll start sinking. And when kids start sinking that close to each other, they often grab onto each other to remain above water, pulling down their swimming buddy with them. To avoid this situation remind your kids, only one person on the noodle at a time.
- Don’t let your child use the noodle as a lifejacket or flotation device – while noodles are a great way to assist experienced swimmers float in the water, they should never be used as the sole flotation device for beginning swimmers or as a substitution for a life jacket. Remember, pool toys are just that – toys – and should not be relied upon for swim safety.
- Discourage kids from using it as a waterspout – it may seem like a fun game when kids use the hole in the middle of the noodle to spout water at their friends, but if they accidentally suck in, they could end up sucking in a bunch of water! Not only could this cause them to choke, but swallowing pool water can mean swallowing the bacteria in it too.
Flippers and/or Snorkel
Just because you’re not in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia doesn’t mean your little fishy can’t snorkel. With the proper swim safety tips, snorkeling can be just as fun in the pool as it is at the beach.
- Experienced swimmers only – beginners are still getting the hang of holding their breath and being under water. Introducing the snorkel too early can cause a confusion between holding your breath underwater and breathing underwater. Advanced swimmers have practice regulating their breathing in the pool and can handle a snorkel much better.
- Watch out for other swimmers in the pool – flippers are much longer than normal feet and for kids who are still learning body-awareness in the water with their normal feet may not realize what to do with feet three times the normal length! Be sure you tell your child to look out for other swimmers and be careful not to splash or kick them in the pool. Flippers and snorkels are best used away from other swimmers where there’s space to swim around.
- Always check the snorkel before use – a dysfunctional or broken snorkel can mean a breath full of pool water – and no one likes that! Be sure to check the snorkel before every use to make sure your child will be able to use it properly without any cracks or leaks.
- Practice going underwater with a snorkel and coming back up – snorkels can be a great way for advanced swimmers to learn how to hold their breath with the snorkel in, dive, and return to the surface. Remember to teach them to blow out the remaining water when they resurface before taking another breath.
The kickboard is a fantastic tool for swimmers working on their kicking and for zipping around the swimming pool. Remember these few tips to make sure they kick with safety.
- Watch where you kick! – just like with flippers, it’s important to make sure your child is aware of his or her surroundings while using the kickboard. Remind them that there are people behind them, as children often forget there are things that exist outside of their direct line of sight.
- Don’t stand on the kickboard – sure, it resembles a surfboard in some ways, but urge your children to resist the temptation to stand up on it. These things are finicky once completely submerged, and a loss of balance could mean a cracked noggin’ too close to the edge of the pool, or toppling on top of another swimming pal.
- Don’t use as a sole flotation device – just like with the pool noodles, kickboards are meant to assist with kicking and swimming, not as a replacement for flotation devices or as a crutch in the deep end. Encourage your child to use it to practice, not as a substitute for treading water.
Last rule – have fun! As always, we here at Hubbard Family Swim School think swim safety works best when pool time is fun. Incorporate pool safety into your everyday conversations and get your kids excited to show you what they’ve learned in swim class. Happy swimming!