Swimming Pool Safety: 14 Things Kids Should Never Do At The Pool

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is the Senior Editor of Branded Content at Wild Sky Media. She grew up in upstate New York and Oregon and now lives in Queens, NY. Ileana graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in sociology. After graduating, she attended the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City, then worked as in marketing at Oxford University Press. Since transitioning to editorial, she has written for BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Woman's World. She has also worked for local newspapers and magazines in upstate New York. In her free time, you can find Ileana watching Law & Order: SVU, eating ice cream, and spending time with her dog.

During the summer, there’s nothing better than heading to the pool with your family and friends. Whether you like to spend your entire day splashing around in the water or prefer to soak up the rays on a towel, a day at the pool is always fun.

Most kids absolutely love going to the swimming pool. They can play in the water with their friends, work on their cannonballs, and practice doing underwater flips. And seriously, who doesn’t love a good game of Marco Polo?

Unfortunately, most kids don’t realize just how dangerous swimming pools can be. Obviously, all parents are aware that there’s a risk of drowning, but there are a number of other dangers lurking at the pool as well.

From serious sunburns to worrisome infections, there are a lot of pool perils most people don’t know about.

Read on to find out which 14 things you should never let your kids do at the pool.

14 Things You Should Never Let Your Kids Do at the Pool
1. Run on the Pool Deck

run on pool deck
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Have you ever wondered why lifeguards at public pools are so adamant about stopping people from running near the pool? It’s not just so they can watch you more carefully.

Running on a pool deck is more dangerous than running elsewhere. The ground can be slick from water that has splashed out of the pool, which makes you more likely to slip. Plus, if you trip, you could fall in the water, which is especially dangerous for kids who don’t know how to swim. Always make sure your children walk carefully when they’re at the pool.

2. Be Out of Your Sight at Any Time

be out of sight
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No matter how old your children are, you should never let them out of your sight when you’re at the pool. Even if your kids are just hanging out in the shallow end, you should keep an eye on them.

Anything can happen to kids at the pool, so you need to make sure they’re safe at all times — and the best way to ensure their safety is to just watch them.

3. Arrive Without Sunscreen Applied

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It might seem like a great idea to just toss your sunscreen into your pool bag and apply it once you arrive, but this is a big mistake: As soon as your kids get to the pool, they’ll want to jump in the water immediately (and they won’t care if they have sunscreen on or not).

Instead, put sunscreen on your kiddos at home before they put on their swimsuits. This will ensure that the sunscreen covers every exposed bit of skin, and it allows them to have fun as soon as they get to the pool! Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours or every time after your kids get out of the water.

4. Not Dry Their Ears

dry ears
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No matter what, always make sure you dry your kids’ ears after they get out of the pool. It might not seem like a big deal to leave your kids with wet ears, but this can actually lead to painful ear infections.

If your children get water stuck in their ears, have them tilt their heads to the side to drain the water, then dry out their ears with a towel.

5. Lend Their Goggles to a Friend

lend goggles
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Most people don’t think twice before sharing goggles, but it can actually be a dangerous thing to do. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a skin infection called molluscum contagiosum can be spread via sports equipment.

“Personal items such as towels, goggles, and swimsuits should not be shared,” explains the CDC.

Children who have this infection should avoid swimming unless they’re wearing watertight bandages over their lesions.

6. Use the Hot Tub

kids hot tub
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Hot tubs can be dangerous for people of all ages, but they’re particularly perilous for children. Kids can easily overheat or drown in hot tubs, but those aren’t the only dangers.

Certain respiratory infections, like Legionnaires’ disease, can be spread through the steam and mist that come from hot tubs. Although these infections are rare, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.

7. Not Drink Enough Water

too much water
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When you’re at the pool, it’s usually pretty hot and sunny outside. Because kids are surrounded by water when they’re in the pool, they might not actually realize they’re thirsty, which can lead to dehydration.

Make sure that when you’re at the pool, your kids are drinking enough water so that they don’t become dehydrated.

8. Swim Too Close to the Drain

pool filter
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According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Pool Safely website, parents should teach their children to stay away from drains, filters, and suction outlets while swimming.

“Do not play or swim near drains or suction outlets, especially in spas and shallow pools, and never enter a pool or spa that has a loose, broken or missing drain cover,” the site reads. “Children’s hair, limbs, jewelry or bathing suits can get stuck in a drain or suction opening.”

9. Dive Into the Shallow End

dive shallow end
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“No diving” signs are always there for a reason: The pool is not deep enough to dive into headfirst. Even if your kids are small and think they won’t hit the bottom, you should make sure they only jump feet first.

According to the New York State Department of Health, you should only dive if the water is at least 8 feet deep.

10. Wear Floaties Alone

wear floaties
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You might think that putting floaties on your child is the safest thing to do, but they can actually give parents a false sense of security. Parents rely on floaties for their young kids, but it’s actually much safer to not use them at all. It’s way too easy for kids to slip out of their floaties and end up underwater. Instead, just hold onto your kids if they’re too young to swim on their own.

11. Pee in the Pool

pee in the pool
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It might seem like no big deal to let your kids pee in the pool, but there are a number of reasons why it’s a bad idea. Despite what many people think, the chlorine won’t protect you from all the bad things that might be lurking in the water. In fact, when chemicals in the water mix with organic matter from our bodies, they form harmful disinfection byproducts. Learn more about why you shouldn’t pee in the pool in this LittleThings article.

12. Swim Alone

swim alone
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If your kids are still learning how to swim, make sure they never swim alone. You should always be within an arm’s reach of your little one (or they should be within an arm’s reach of another adult), even if they think they can swim on their own. It’s easy to let your kids drift away if you’re having a good time in the pool, but always make sure you keep a close eye on them.

13. Play With Dangerous Swim Toys

dangerous toys
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You might think that all toys advertised as “pool toys” are safe for the pool, but that’s not the case. Many pool toys, especially inflatables, have high concentrations of chemicals that could be potentially harmful. The easiest way to tell if your kids’ pool toys are safe is to give them a whiff; if the toys smell like nail polish, rubber, glue, or almonds, don’t give them to your little ones.

14. Splash Around in Shallow Water

splash shallow water
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Every time you go to the pool, you run the risk of catching water-related illnesses. Kids are especially susceptible because they have lower immune systems than adults. Kids are also vulnerable because they spend more time in the shallow end, where the water tends to be more contaminated. If they splash a lot, they’re more likely to ingest this contaminated water.

Pool safety is of the utmost importance, but it’s also important to remember you need to be wary of pools even if you’re not swimming yourself. If you have a pool at your house, make sure you keep a cover on it; otherwise, it’s easy for kids to slip and fall in. If you have more questions about pool safety for kids, contact your local pediatrician.