New policy requires guardians to accompany children under 10 at public pools

A young competitor in a swim meet at the Chesterville pool in August 2017. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

CORNWALL — Children under 10 years of age won’t be allowed into local public pools — even those with lifeguards — unless accompanied by a guardian of at least 12 years old.

With children about to be let loose for summer holidays, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit is gearing up to enforece the new rule imposed on “Class A” public pools by the province’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Lifeguard-protected public pools in parks and recreation centres operated by municipalities fall under the Class A definition.

The new rule or “standard” requires all children under 10 who are swimming in a public pool to be accompanied by a guardian at least 12 years old — responsible for the direct supervision of the child.

The Health Unit points out that, in Canada, drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for children.

For children under 6 years old

Under the new rule, children under 6 will only be allowed pool admission if  supervised by at least one guardian for every two children not wearing life jackets. If the children are wearing life jackets, a guardian may supervise up to four under-6’s.

For children between 6 and 9 

One guardian may supervise up to four children between 6 and 9 years old not wearing life jackets. If they are wearing life jackets, a guardian may supervise up to eight children in that age category.

The Health Unit advises staying within sight and arm’s reach of any child under five who does not swim well, noting that young children are attracted to water, don’t understand the danger and can drown in as little as one inch. It also advises that young children and weak swimmers wear life jackets and urges parents to enrol their children in swimming lessons as soon as possible. Even so, teaching a child to swim “does not mean your child is safe in the water,” the Health Unit points out. “So even if your child has taken swimming lessons, you should still never leave him/her alone in the pool or at the beach.”

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