Many parents who spent time at the pool unsupervised as children aren’t so sure they should do the same for their own kids. Of course, every family is different and children vary in age and skill level. Some families have one child while others have six or more; some people swim with groups of friends and others prefer one or two for company. So of course there will be differences.
Generally speaking, though, children under the age of 12 are less likely to be able to handle being alone at the pool. And children under the age of 5 should definitely not be left at the pool alone.
Here are some thoughts on dropping the kids off at the pool that may help you decide if you should or shouldn’t.
1. Pool Location
Where is the pool where you’re thinking of dropping off your kids? If it’s an outdoor in the middle of a neighborhood, it may not be as safe as an indoor pool at a respectable facility like the YMCA. Child predators can “stalk” outdoor pools from nearby, and may be able to infiltrate a pool’s area pretty easily in some neighborhoods. An indoor pool, on the other hand, is more likely to have a check-in area where members have to scan a card or sign in.
Check the pool’s sign-out policy and find out if there are safety measures in place. Make sure that no one but you can leave with your child unless that person is approved by you and known by the pool’s staff. Look carefully at exits and entrances, and see if someone could sneak in or out with your child.
2. Swimming Ability
If you are considering dropping off your child, it’s vital that he or she is comfortable in the water and has mastered basic swimming skills. Lifeguards are there to save lives, but they are not babysitters and they cannot be expected to pull your child out of danger over and over.
3. Adult Supervision (Even If It’s Not You)
One thing that may help your decision to leave your kids at the pool is whether or not there will be some other adult present. See if a friend’s parent can supervise, or hire an adult babysitter. If you know a responsible teenager or young adult, and you trust him or her, that might work too.
4. Start with Short Trips
If you’re comfortable with leaving your kids at the pool, start with short trips to get them used to the idea. Drop them off and go run a quick errand and then return and supervise. You can leave them for longer periods each time.
5. The Pool’s Policy
Find out what your pool’s policy is on the age for kids to be dropped off. Some pools won’t let anyone be unsupervised under the age of 16; others have older or younger age limits.
Any pool where your child is going to be dropped off should have several working lifeguards on duty at all times.
Whether you decide to drop your kids off at the pool or not is a personal decision. Hopefully, these tips have helped you make your decision.