When you or your children are in the pool, are you making sure someone has their Water Watcher card? If it doesn’t sound familiar, then you may be missing a vital step in pool supervision. Pools can be a lot of fun, but water is the second leading cause of injury deaths for children 14 or under, a troubling statistic that is often preventable. Understanding the importance of constant supervision when the pool is in use is a vital part of keeping your friends, family, and loved ones safe.

Water Watcher

A Water Watcher card does not make the holder a lifeguard, and it’s important to understand that often they will not have the training or skills a lifeguard possesses. What they do have is the responsibility to remain vigilant and monitor pool activities for unsafe practices, dangerous situations, and signs that a swimmer may be in distress. Designating a Water Watcher should be automatic then kids are in the pool, but adults can benefit from a dedicated pool monitor–especially when alcohol or other mood-altering substances may be involved in the pool area activities.

The Traits Of A Good Water Watcher

Before you pick someone to hold the Water Watcher card, make sure they fit the criteria for being an excellent pool safety monitor.

  • Needs to be 16-or-older. An adult is better when possible, but if a young adult has the responsibility level and physical attributes, they can make an excellent choice.
  • Knows how to identify hazards in and around the water and spot the signs of a swimmer in distress. They should also be able and willing to act when necessary.
  • Is trained in first aid and CPR or able to alert someone present who is.
  • Has a phone they can use to call 9-1-1 or to alert other adults if needed.
  • Has access to and knows how to use safety equipment, including flotation devices, reach objects, and emergency first aid kits.
  • Is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The Importance Of Assigning The Card

It’s easy to get distracted in the pool area, that’s why having a designated safety monitor with a Water Watcher card is so important. This creates a sense of duty and obligation to maintain vigilant pool supervision, and gives other swimmers a single person to report any danger signs to. The card should be a visible sign of the role they’re playing in pool safety that is respected by both children and adults in attendance. The Water Watcher is the first responder for any pool emergency.

A girl swimming in a pool with a floaty nearby.

What A Water Watcher Should Watch For

When you have the Water Watcher card, you’re in charge of keeping the wet and wild fun safer.

  • Watch The Top Of The Water For Signs Of Distress – There are plenty of signs a swimmer could be in trouble. From waving arms to attract attention, calling for help, or vigorously reaching for a calve as they try to stay above water, you’ll want to watch for actions that are out of the ordinary. This can be complicated by other swimmers playing games or the erratic motions of new swimmers who are still trying to get their limbs to work together.
  • Watch The Bottom Of The Water For Already Failing Swimmers – If a swimmer can’t maintain their buoyancy, has a seizure, or otherwise loses consciousness, they can quietly end up at the bottom of the pool. Check it regularly. If you have a crowded swimming session, it may be necessary to call everyone out of the pool regularly for a visual check. While no one wants to pause the fun, point out that it’s part of your job when you have the Water Watcher card.
  • Watch Water Hazards – From non-pool toys in the pool to unsecured covers, there are quite a few things that can end up where they shouldn’t be. Even toys designed for the water, in too great a number, can become hazards. Make sure you’re keeping the water and everything in it safe.
  • Watch The Surrounding Area For Danger – While they may not be in the water yet, hazards around the pool can easily end up there. Watch for signs of glass or electrical devices near the pool edge. Horseplay should be closely monitored as push-ins, shallow dives, and horse play can easily end in injury or drowning, so understand where limits need to be set, make them clear, and enforce them.
  • Maintain Pool Supervision Until You’re Relieved – The Water Watcher card should only be passed to another competent individual. Until then, the responsibility for the pool and everyone in it and around it is yours. Make sure they have the card and understand the pool is now their responsibility.

Plan For Safety

Make sure you have a plan in place to keep your family, friends, and pets safe. This should include making your pool area safer with a safety cover and safety fence that help prevent accidental drownings. Remember to assign a Water Watcher card at your next event and keep an eye on the Aqua-Safe Unlimited blog for the best pool safety tips.

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