Should You Drop the Kids Off at the Pool or Stay?

public-pool-enteranceMany parents who spent time at the pool unsupervised as children aren’t so sure they should do the same for their own kids.  Of course, every family is different and children vary in age and skill level. Some families have one child while others have six or more. Some people swim with groups of friends and others prefer one or two for company. So of course there will be differences.

Generally speaking, children under the age of 12 are less likely to be able to handle being alone at the pool. And children under the age of 5 should definitely not be left at the pool alone.

Here are some things to consider as you decide if you should drop the kids off at the pool or stay with them.

1. Pool Location

Where is the pool? If it’s an outdoor in the middle of a neighborhood, it may not be as safe as an indoor pool at a respectable facility like the YMCA. Child predators can “stalk” outdoor pools from nearby, and may be able to infiltrate a pool’s area pretty easily in some neighborhoods. An indoor pool, on the other hand, is more likely to have a check-in area where members have to scan a card or sign in.

Check the pool’s sign-out policy and find out if there are safety measures in place. Make sure that no one but you can pick up your child unless approved by you and known by the pool’s staff. Look carefully at exits and entrances, and see if someone could sneak in or out with your child.

2. Swimming Ability

If you are considering dropping off your child, it’s vital that he or she is comfortable in the water and has mastered basic swimming skills. Lifeguards are there to save lives, but they are not babysitters and they cannot be expected to pull your child out of danger over and over.

3. Adult Supervision (Even If It’s Not You)

One thing that may help your decision to leave your kids at the pool is whether or not there will be some other adult present. See if a friend’s parent can supervise, or hire an adult babysitter. If you know a responsible teenager or young adult, and you trust him or her, that might work too.

4. Length of Swim Time

The length of time your child will be at the pool will be a major factor. If you’ve dropped the kids off before and you all feel comfortable, you may want to do it again. If this isn’t the case and it would be the first time for your child, start with short trips to get them used to the idea. Drop them off and go run a quick errand and then return and supervise. You can leave them for longer periods each time.

5. The Pool’s Policy

Find out what your pool’s policy is on the age for kids to be dropped off. Some pools won’t let anyone be unsupervised under the age of 16; others have older or younger age limits.

7. Lifeguard Availability and Qualifications

Any pool where your child is going to be dropped off should have several working lifeguards on duty at all times. You may also want to speak with the pool owner or manager to find out what qualifications and certifications the lifeguards are required to have.

Whether you decide to drop your kids off at the pool or not, it is a personal choice that only you can make, based on the facts. Hopefully, these tips have helped you make the decision that is best for you and your child.


  1. Laurie Booke says:

    A few other tips to keep in mind: The pool’s policy about unattended children. The YMCA requires an adult is within arms reach of children 6 and under. The town and/or county may have a minimum age restriction. My county requires children must be 12 years of age to be left unsupervised. Police and Child Protective Services could get involved if something happens and there is not someone 12 or older supervising younger ones.

    Also, be realistic about how your children behave out in public without supervision. It’s amazing what they may do while with their friends. I am always at the pool with my children because of a huge age range but some of the tweens and teens that come to the pool are obnoxious, badly behaved and make the lifeguards job very difficult. Teenage lifeguards also don’t necessarily feel comfortable correcting peers and other peoples children and they don’t have the “parental experience” to foresee certain behaviors that often lead to danger or injury.