Thinking of having a pool party at your community or neighborhood pool? You’ll need to do a few things first.
STEP 1. Reserve your facility through the proper channels.
Every community has their own policies and procedures for reserving the clubhouse and/or pool. To find out about your community’s policies and available dates, check with your property manager, pool manager, neighborhood activity director or HOA board.
You are responsible for:
1. checking on available dates
2. reserving your preferred date
3. paying security deposits and rental fees
4. abiding by the rules and regulations of your facility
STEP 2. Complete our online Pool Party Request form.
AFTER you completed the steps above, please use our online party request form
The form below reserves lifeguards for your party. It does not reserve your facility on your preferred date. You are responsible for reserving your facility and paying any required reservation fees or security deposits.
STEP 3. Plan to have a safe party.
The Redwoods Group, the largest insurer of YMCAs, which maintains an excellent and aggressive drowning prevention program for its clients, collected startling data during its accident investigations. During the past five-year period, the Redwoods discovered the majority of pool deaths — nearly two-thirds — occurred during a planned group swimming activity, typically a pool party.
How can pool parties be so dangerous?
The first problem is that when parents get an invitation to a children’s birthday party, regardless of whether their own children can swim or not, too often they drop them off, assuming either the host parent or the “professional” lifeguard will watch the kids. If the party is at a residential pool, parents tend to think the host parents and other guests will watch their child.
The trouble is, the hosting parents simply are too distracted to watch kids in the pool. They’re more concerned with the birthday cake, presents and activities as well as socializing with the other adults in attendance. Other attending parents likewise are too distracted by socializing or with their own children to watch someone else’s. If lifeguards are on duty, too often they assume the parents attending the party will be supervising the youngsters.
At the same time, attending adults and lifeguards do not know which children can swim and which cannot. Non-swimmers usually don’t wear protective Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (life jackets). So when a child does become distressed in the water, adults and children figure the child is playing and not drowning.
As you can see, the problem is a deadly mix of assumptions and lack of supervision. Fortunately, the solutions to that problem are not all that difficult or costly.
Here are some recommendations for having a safe and successful pool party:
- Require parents to attend. This should be particularly true for non-swimmers. Attending parents need to be told what their specific duties are and who specifically they are watching in the water. Identify parents who can swim and who cannot. If lifeguards are not present, the hosting parents should know how to swim and be CPR-certified.
- Assign additional lifeguards. These guards should be specifically assigned to the swimming group, in addition to the other guards normally scheduled at the pool. For pools not normally guarded, at least one guard and preferably two certified guards who are not friends or family members of the party hosts should be hired for the event. Remember, head counts save lives. Count the children in the pool every five minutes.
- Present a short safety lecture. Use 10 to 15 minutes prior to the beginning of the party for all those in attendance. Talk about the buddy system with the children and teach them how it works. Hazards and risks at the host facility should be cited as well. All participants should be swim-tested in shallow water at the very outset of the party. As part of the party, offer a group swim lesson for the non-swimmers by a qualified instructor.
- Mark and float non-swimmers. Identify them with a wrist band or temporary tattoo or similar marking to note “non-swimmer” and then place them in a proper-fitting life jacket. When swimmers and non-swimmers are in attendance, every attempt should be made to keep the entire group in shallow water, if possible.
- Keep the swimming segment of the party short. The ideal time for swimming activities seems to be 1 1/2 to 2 hours. At the end of the aquatic period, switch to dry-land activities, and clear and close the pool. A total ban on alcohol should be in place, or at least until the pool is cleared and closed.
- Encourage hosting parents to contact a water safety agency, group or consultant. This is especially important if guards are not present. These experts can help plan the pool party a few weeks in advance. They can assist with the planning and actual supervision of the pool party. A safety handout should be provided to all guests at least one week prior to the party.
Source: Dr. Tom Griffiths, March 2008, Aquatics International.