May is National Water Safety Month, and the beginning of pool and beach season for many of our residents, their friends and family members. Living in Norfolk, VA means being surrounded by bodies of water in every direction, from the Chesapeake Bay at Ocean View to the Elizabeth and Lafayette Rivers, Virginia Beach Oceanfront and, of course, our beautiful, community swimming pool.

You likely won’t be able to avoid going near water this season (and we wouldn’t want you to), and if you have young children or are not a confident swimmer, it’s important to take extra precautions to stay safe. Pool safety is especially important to us at Walker’s Chase, since our pool opens Memorial Day weekend and stays open until Labor Day weekend. We want our residents to make the most of those three, sunny months by cooling off in our pool, but we want to ensure everyone’s safety along the way.

Here are 5 pool safety tips to help keep you, your family members, neighbors and friends swimming comfortably this season. For more tips, visit National Water Safety Month.

Supervision, Supervision, Supervision
Even if your child has taken swim lessons and is a comfortable swimmer, supervision is the number one most important way to keep them safe at the pool this summer. Your child should never be left unattended at the pool, and don’t assume that another child will serve as a “supervisor,” should you need to step away. Make sure to stand watch on your kiddos at all times. If you need to take a bathroom break or grab a snack, pack them up and bring them with you.

Buddy System is Best
If you’re heading to the pool with a crowd, call on the buddy system to help keep your group connected. While the buddy system does NOT substitute supervision (you’ll still have to watch your little ones), it will help your kiddos to stay extra safe in a crowded pool. Pair off kids before entering the pool and insist that they swim and stick together. Before entering the pool, give them specific instructions on where they are allowed to swim, as well as the pool rules.

Consider Enrolling in Swim Lessons
If you have an inexperienced or young swimmer in your family, it is well worth it to invest in basic swimming lessons before pool season begins. Swim lessons will teach your child how to safely put their face in the water, float on their backs and avoid drowning. While swim lessons won’t guarantee that your child is a safe enough swimmer to hit the pool alone, it will help to give them a good foundation to prevent some minor pool safety issues. You can enroll in lessons through the Red Cross or your local YMCA.

Stay Away from Drains
While your little ones may become fascinated by pool drains or pipes, it is important to keep them away from these areas at all times to avoid entrapment. Drains are meant to suck debris out of the pool to keep the pool clean, but small children or children with tassels or items hanging off of their swim suits are at risk of getting trapped or pulled into a drain. Give your kids clear instructions to stay away from these spaces at all times before you hit the pool.

Create a Pool Safety Plan for Your Family
Before swim season begins, sit down with your family and devise a pool safety plan for use at all times. This should include any specific pool rules, as well as rules that are unique to your own family. Important things to think about may be: making sure to identify the designated pool supervisor before each visit to the pool, defining the buddy system rule, discussing areas of the pool that are on or off limits, and coming up with an emergency action plan should danger arise. Keeping your family aware of the dangers of swimming in the pool will help them to be more cautious and careful when pool season arrives. When it comes to pool season, caution and safety come first!