Take advantage of the summer heat – and keep the party mess outdoors – by making your child’s next party a pool party. I’ve helped Los Angeles parents throw countless pool parties through my job as a professional mermaid and lifeguard. Here are some of my best tips for hosting poolside events for kids.
Choose your theme and entertainment. Swimming mermaids and activity-leading pirates (which is our specialty at Sheroes Entertainment) are popular with Los Angeles families – so popular you should reserve specialty entertainers at least one month in advance to ensure availability. Verify that your entertainment choice is available before sending out invitations. Savvy parents also know that sometimes flexibility counts. You might be able to save money with popular companies by being flexible on your party dates or times.
Know your guest list. Send out your invitations approximately one month in advance, and consider adding a swim-level check box to your RSVP so that you can identify your guests’ swimming levels and plan accordingly. Remind parents in the invitation to pack towels, swimsuits, sun block and goggles. If a child has a prescription for an allergic reaction auto-injector, most commonly known as an “EpiPen,” they should bring it to the party and inform the party host (and lifeguard, if present) of where it is.
Arrange for certified, insured help. One or more certified lifeguards should be on the “must have” list of anyone hosting a pool party. According to the International Life Saving Federation, drowning is a leading cause of death and injury worldwide, and more than half of all drowning deaths are children under age 15. While the presence of lifeguards isn’t a guarantee against accidents or injuries, their training could be a lifesaver. Call water entertainment companies or lifeguard resources at least three weeks in advance to reserve them. Ask for proof of current lifeguard, first aid and CPR certifications before hiring a service. Hiring someone with expired or missing certifications makes about as much sense as paying a stranger without a license to drive your car, so if certifications are not available from a potential resource, hire someone else.
Set up a sun-and-swim supply station. Offer a basket of clean towels, sun block and new child-size swim goggles. Your local emergency response phone number, directions to the nearest hospital from your location and a freshly stocked first-aid kit containing non-latex gloves and a CPR mask should also be placed in an accessible location. You can reduce any last-minute stress by gathering these items at least two weeks in advance.
Clean and treat the pool. Approximately one week before your party, have your pool cleaning service (if you use one) check your pool for proper cleanliness and chemical levels, and answer any equipment use questions you have.
Heat the pool. Approximately one full day before your party, start heating your pool to allow enough time for the water to heat. USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport of swimming in the U.S., recommends heating a pool to 86 to 88 degrees for children under age 10.
Clear the clutter. Floating lounge chairs, titanic-sized inflatable turtles and over-sized orca ride-on toys take up space in the pool and make it difficult for pool-safety supervisors to see your party guests. If an item obscures your ability to clearly view the entire pool surface and floor, it should be removed and stored away from the pool prior to your party.
Follow these tips, and you’re sure to have a safer (and more fun) pool party. Happy swimming!
Virginia Hankins is a certified Lifeguard and Lifeguard Manager who directs water entertainment at Sheroes Entertainment LLC, a children’s pool party company serving the Southern California region. She loves riding horses and teaching people archery when she’s not living her childhood dream of being a professional mermaid.