How young is too young to drop off at neighborhood pool? - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

How young is too young to drop off at neighborhood pool?

Always observe the pool's age and height policies; if there are none, use best judgment. (Source: WAFF) Always observe the pool's age and height policies; if there are none, use best judgment. (Source: WAFF)
DECATUR, AL (WAFF) -

Fun trips to pools or aquatic centers are great family fun. But how young is too young to be left unsupervised? 

Every family is different, with children who vary in age and skill level. 

Jason Lake is the park superintendent for Point Mallard in Decatur. He says there are safety measures parents should consider. 

"They need to be well hydrated, and they need to have eaten," Lake advises. "Sunscreen is very important. More important than we ever realized." 

Some safety experts say an outdoor pool may not be as safe as an indoor pool with "sign-in sheets." That's because child predators can stalk outdoor pools. 

Parents should also consider their child's swimming ability. 

"If a child can not swim... always needs to be with an adult. Always needs to be with a guardian, somebody that can help that child while they're here. Even kids that may not be the strongest swimmers need that supervision, even with the well-trained lifeguards we have here, they need that adult supervision," said Lake. 

That could mean hiring an adult or teenaged babysitter. 

Pools have various policies. Some pools won't let anyone be unsupervised under the age of 16 or 12; others have older or younger age limits.

Lake says they don't have limits. 

"We don't give an age. We leave that to parents and their common sense," he said. "If a kid comes here and they can't swim, they can not do those things. Of course they should not be dropped off here. While it is safe and we have people here that can help, If they can't swim and they are too young to go to school and do those type things, then they probably need an adult here with them." 

Consider the length of time spent in the water as well. Start with a short time and increase it with each visit. For many families, it is simply a personal choice.

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