Saturday, May 26, 2012

Open letter to the people at our neighborhood pool

Dear neighbors,

In order to prevent me from bitch-slapping you and getting banned from the pool this summer, here are some things to remember:

  1. Watch your kids – There is no lifeguard at our pool. That means you are actually responsible for the safety of your kids. Sitting with your back to the pool so as to catch the maximum number of rays is stupid and unsafe.
  2. Don’t put your kid in a floatie – You may think they are safe since they have some sort of flotation device on them. But they aren’t. If you’ll look closely, the pink, Dora water wings are not USCG certified flotation devices. They are NOT the same thing as life jackets. Putting your kids in water wings or floaties is dangerous. It gives both you and your kid a false sense of security. He thinks he’ll be fine in the pool no matter what, and you think you don’t have to watch him. When I was four, I sank to the bottom of a pool because my floatie popped off. Fortunately, my parents were sitting right there and Runnerdude fished me out.
  3. No cigarettes or glass bottles -  Seriously, go outside the fence to smoke. No one wants to sit outside at the pool and smell that. And no glass should go without saying. You drop that beer bottle, glass goes everywhere, and some barefoot little kid ends up needing stitches. If you insist on drinking a beer at the pool, drink out of a can or a plastic cup.
  4. Expect to be splashed – If you are sitting on the edge of a pool full of kids with your feet in the water, you cannot get mad if you get splashed by kids. If you don’t want to have your hair and make-up ruined, get out of the splash zone.
  5. First come, first served  – No fair dragging all the chairs and lounges and tables and draping them with towels to reserve them for friends who may or may not show up at some point during the day. Also, it’s rude to put a pop-up cabana right next to the pool for your private party; you’re blocking traffic.
  6. Turn down the music – It’s great that you like Christian death metal music, but I don’t. The pool is noisy enough without having to listen to competing boom boxes. Use headphones.
  7. Watch out for little kids – If you turn your 14 year old and his four buddies loose with super soakers and they knock down my little kid in the baby pool, there’s going to be a problem. And if your kid pushes mine in the pool, I’m going to say something to him. I don’t care that you don’t believe in saying “No.”
  8. Put your boobs away – We’re all thrilled that you have such expensive ones, but that itty-bitty bikini wouldn’t even be appropriate on the beach in Brazil. Plus, you’ve got to be pushing 50. I’m not saying you don’t have a great body or that you have to wear a sensible skirtini. Just cover up a little please.
  9. It’s been 25 years – You are not still a studly high school football player. Please stop crashing into other swimmers while you play catch with your buddies, dude.

Seriously, it amazes me how poorly people behave at the neighborhood pool. It’s like their manners and common sense dissolve in chlorine. I came home from the pool this morning so worked up that B suggested, very gently, that maybe I not go back when there were crowds. I think he’s afraid he’s going to have to bail me out.

What gets me the most, are the dangerous conditions that parents put their kids in. They turn little kids who can’t swim loose in the pool and then walk away. The water may only be 18 inches deep, but kids can still drown.

I spent my high school years as a life guard and swim instructor. In college I became Water Safety Certified, which meant I could teach other people to be life guards. I ran a summer swim program for hundreds of kids. I take pool safety seriously.

Twice I have been involved in pool emergencies. The first was when I was coaching at UF. I walked out of my office to hear the life guards shouting. I called 911 and then got in line to take turns with rescue breathing. One of the rec swimmers had been practicing holding his breath on the bottom of the pool. He was an experienced swimmer and SCUBA diver, but he still died. In a pool. Surrounded by life guards and swimmers. EMS was on the scene in three minutes. He didn’t splash and shout and flail around. He very quietly just sank to the bottom.

The second was during swim lessons. I was supervising several groups of instructors and kids, when a little girl, who was playing around out of her instructor’s line of sight, bounced herself off the step and into deep water. By the time I fished her out, her lips were blue. Fortunately, she immediately coughed vomit and water all over me and started screaming for her mother. But another 30 seconds, and it would have been a different story. As with the other guy, she slipped under the surface without any splashing or flailing around.

Please be safe out there.

And don’t be assholes.


Kimberly C said...

Nice job, Heather! People do not behave that badly at our neighborhood pool, thank goodness, but I would like to write an open letter to the moms who drop their kids off at school in the morning.

joanna said...

#9 made me laugh. The rest made me mad, too. Bring down the law, Heather. We're starting to get weekly child drownings in our news over here. Be safe and don't be an asshole. WORD.

jennyp said...

#8 always gets me at the beach here in Florida. Especially the folks in the itty bitty bikinis who most definitely should NOT be wearing it as they bounce about in the waves. No one wants to see that!

Unknown said...

I was laughing and agreeing up to the end of the list. I should have stopped there. Inwas a lifeguard too and well... All I will day is now I am feeling a bit PTSD-ish and I need a hug. Crap.

donna said...

These are all the reasons why we don't go to the neighborhood pool. We went there once and I wanted to hurt people. Now we go to the county pool that has lifeguards and rules and supervisors that make sure people follow the rules...WAAAAY better.

Ann in NJ said...

Thank you thank you thank you. We stopped going to our neighborhood pool club because I was tired of worrying about other people's kids. And I don't swim well enough to feel confident I could save anyone, so it made me really paranoid.

Sometimes I really don't understand people. I would go when it's not busy, too.

Bejewell said...

Private pools are a beautiful thing. FRIENDS with private pools are even better. You can enjoy for free, without all the work. Seek them out and say goodbye to the smokers and overgrown high school quarterbacks!

Susan said...

I think you should laminate and post your letter at the entrance of the pool - even though people don't really see themselves in the descriptions, it may get people talking and paying more attention.

shrink on the couch said...

Great list! Especially the glass bottles. Some people are just plain idiots who think they are the only ones in the pool.