Not even a minute – leaving a child unattended at a pool

Swimming pools are great for recreational activities and all round family fun for both
adults and children. However, they can also be a source of great unexpected
anguish and adverse eventualities. Drowning is well known to take the lives of
more toddlers than any other type of recreational accident. Additionally, the
children who are lucky enough to survive a near drowning experience are often
afflicted with temporary or permanent brain damage from the lack of oxygen.

Children between the ages of one and four are at the greatest risk of being involved in
a water body incident. The main reason for this phenomenon is that at this age,
children are extremely active and full of curiosity. They are always learning
new skills every day and adults have to keep a keen eye on them at all times.
They can suddenly learn how to operate doors and wonder off to the swimming
pool area.

One common misconception about drowning is that it happens dramatically with the
victims flailing around in the water. The truth is that drowning is rather event less. A child can fall into a swimming pool and drown silently without
ever calling out for help. There are numerous cases of people drowning right in
the midst of experienced swimmers without anyone even noticing. 

These incidences clearly emphasize the importance of not leaving a child unattended
at a pool for even one minute. A child can drown in about a minute or two. A
large percentage of child drowning happen at the homes of the parents,
neighbors or relatives. Fortunately, these are some measures that parents and
caregivers can take to prevent such incidences.


The supervision of children around the swimming pool should never be undertaken as
normal supervision, whereby the parent or caregiver checks on them from time to
time. This active supervision involves keeping the children in direct sight at
all times. Parents must never leave a child alone in or around a swimming pool,
even for a few seconds. This is regardless of whether the child knows how to
swim or is wearing standard issue floaters. 

If there are many children, caregivers can assign some of the supervisory work to
a responsible older child or teenager. This assistant should be carefully
instructed to keep the children in direct sight and at arm’s length at all
times. It is important to always keep rescue equipment such as the safety rings
and long poles within easy reach in case of anything. If parents are having a
private pool party, they should consider enlisting the services of a
professional lifeguard.


Barriers are essential for keeping the children away from the pool area when it is not
being used. The pool gate and fences should meet the recommended safety
standards including a self-closing gate than open away from the pool side.
Always use safety locks whenever the swimming pool is not in use. 

All the doors and windows leading to the pool area should close and latch
automatically. The latch releases should be child proof and out of reach of
young children. It is also advisable to invest in swimming pool alarms.

It is also very important that children are taught how to swim when they are old
enough. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the recommended age is
4 years. This should not replace active adult supervision but complement it.