Use your Senses Before you Swim

In the last blog post, we talked about when we should swim based on the swimming ability of your child.  Today we are going to talk about when it is safe to swim based on your senses.

Before you swim, use your senses.  When entering a facility or a swimming hole, you should use your senses to make sure it is safe to swim.  If something seems off, investigate or ask questions until you are satisfied it is safe to swim.  Never swim if something doesn’t seem right.

Look to make sure:

  • The facility is clean and well maintained,
  • You know about any hazards or places the children should stay away from,
  • The pool cover is removed,
  • There are trained lifeguards on duty (if you are in a public area),
  • You know where safety equipment is stored,
  • You can see the bottom of the pool or swim area, and
  • The weather is conducive to swimming (no storms in the area).

Smell for:

  • Excessive chlorine which could indicate a water chemical imbalance,
  • Musty smell which could indicate the air filtration system is not working properly, and
  • Other odd smells.

Feel for:

  • Make sure pool tiles and slides are not slimy,
  • Water temperature is warm enough for the type of swimming you will be doing (a minimum water temperature of 83 to 86 degrees is recommended for children with recreational swimming being the higher temperature and sport swimming being the lower temperature), and
  • Be sure to tie up long hair so it doesn’t get tangled in any equipment or drains.


  • Set specific swimming rules for each individual based on their swimming ability,
  • Implement a buddy system, and
  • Go over the water safety rules you want people to follow.

**As you’re swimming, listen and look for changes in the weather.  If you can hear or see a storm approaching, go inside away from water and wait until 30 minutes after the storm has passed before going back in the water.

If someone has been sick, they should be symptom free for at least 24 hours before going into the water.  If the person has had diarrhea, the minimum wait time is 48 hours but check with the facility where you are swimming as some places have longer wait times.  Diarrhea is very communicable and all facility rules need to be followed closely to make sure other swimmers do not get sick.

If you use your senses and ask questions when something doesn’t seem right, you will be on your way to having a great day by the water.