If you want to learn about water safety, you have to ask the experts. So, here’s a list of things you may not know about public pools and swimming, that comes directly from trained lifeguards:

  • “Floaties” don’t really keep kids safe. In fact, those inflatable belts some kids wear can just as easily hold them upside down in water as they do holding kids right side up! It won’t do any good to have floaties around their arms if their head is underwater! In other words: Lifeguards say there’s no replacement for watching your kids at all times, and teaching them basic water safety.
  • The next thing lifeguards want you to know: Public pools aren’t as clean as you think. I don’t mean to gross you out here, but the CDC recommends that pools be shut down for 30 minutes if a swimmer has an “accident” in the pool. That’s because waste matter can carry serious germs that can make you sick. Yet many lifeguards admit they just add more chlorine when that happens, or they move swimmers to a different part of the pool.
  • About that chlorine: You should NEVER be able to smell it. Josh Ulfers is a pool consultant who says strong chlorine odors either come from having too much chlorine in the water, or from bodily fluids breaking down in the water. Either way, chlorine odors can cause coughing, burning in the eyes and nausea. So, leave the water immediately if you experience those symptoms.
  • One more thing lifeguards want you to know about water safety: Pool rules exist for a reason. It turns out, most injuries in public swimming pools are not caused by drowning. Instead, they’re caused by people running and slipping on wet pool tiles, or from jumping on top of other swimmers.