Poolside Safety Tips

By: Connor Davies ’14, Public and Community Health, CRS Communications Assistant

You might be ready to dive into summer and leave the memories of our long, cold winter behind you. But before you hit the pool, keep these safety tips in mind for a fun and safe poolside experience.


Be aware of your surroundings. Before you even think about jumping in, take 5 minutes to assess the surrounding area…

  • How deep is the pool?
  • If it has a shallow and a deep end, where does it start increasing in depth?
  • Is the area surrounding the pool made of a hard material like concrete or tile? Will it get slippery when wet?
  • Is diving allowed?
  • Is the pool currently crowded?

Notice if water safety items and lifeguards are available. When going to a public pool, it’s important to take note if safety items and lifeguards are present in the case of an emergency.

  • Is there a certified lifeguard? Are they alert? If not, find a supervisor and alert them to the situation.
  • Does the pool have all the required equipment such as lifeguard rescue tubes, water rescue backboard, AED device, CPR masks and a fully stocked first aid kit?

Practice personal safety. Even when swimming in an area with lifeguards, your first line of defense against possible water accidents is YOU.

  • Know your swimming skill level. If you were pushed in to water over your head, would you be able to calmly make it to the side? If you know you are not a strong swimmer or if you tire easily, stay in areas where you can stand or easily reach the side of the pool.
  • Never swim alone. Even if you are an Olympic-level swimmer, accidents can happen. Always swim with a buddy.
  • Drink plenty of water. You can’t see it, but you sweat while you swim. In addition to heat and physical activity, you can become easily dehydrated and elevate your risk of needing rescue.
  • Don’t drink alcohol and swim. By swimming under the influence, you are putting your own life, the life of those swimming around you and possibly the life of a lifeguard in danger.
  • Watch children in your care. If you bring a child to the pool, it is important to remember that they are YOUR responsibility. Lifeguards are the last line of defense and are not babysitters. Go in the water with children who are in your care and stay within arm’s reach.
  • Use a life jacket in open water. If you’re heading out to open water, wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket. Your life jacket should fit snugly. Raise your hands above your head making a “touchdown” – if the jacket hits your chin or ears, it’s too big or the straps are not adjusted properly.

Protect yourself from the sun. Soaking up some sun by the pool might be part of your summer tradition. However, the sun can be damaging to our skin and increase our risk for skin cancer. Follow these sun safety recommendations whenever you spend any length of time in the sun.

  • Apply sunscreen, of 35 SPF or higher, up to 30 minutes before exposing your skin to the sun. Make this a part of your morning routine over the summer months.
  • When outside and exposed to the sun, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Even sunscreens that are advertised as sweat and water resistant should be reapplied for maximum effectiveness.
  • After application of sunscreen, let it settle on the skin for at least 5 minutes before jumping in the pool. Exposing it to water too soon could wash away the sunscreen or dilute it’s effects leaving your skin vulnerable to the sun’s rays.

If you have any poolside safety tips, please share them with us in the comments! Have a fun and safe summer by the pool, Terps!

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