Paddling Pool Risk Assessment: Safe and Fun Water Play

Conducting a thorough risk assessment is essential before setting up a paddling pool, especially when it involves the safety of children and others who will be using it. This article presents a comprehensive paddling pool risk assessment, identifying potential hazards, and providing practical measures to mitigate risks.

From water safety considerations and pool placement to supervision guidelines and pool maintenance, this assessment aims to ensure a safe and enjoyable paddling pool experience for everyone involved. By being proactive in identifying and addressing potential risks, you can create a secure environment that allows for worry-free fun in the water.

paddling pool risk assessment

Paddling Pool Risk Assessment

The risk assessment should consider all aspects pertinent to the pool, i.e. its size, depth, shape, location, security, access, users, etc. Special care must be taken when studying the risks of possible pool water contamination as well as when setting the level of supervision.

“Managing Health and Safety in Swimming Pools” HSE book, HSG179 provides important guidance.

Unauthorized Use and Safety When Not in Use

A paddling pool should ideally be located in a self-contained secure area to avoid possible unauthorized use or vandalism. Using the example of outdoor swimming pools “Managing Health and Safety in Swimming Pools” says, “High walls and fences may be inadequate deterrents to prevent unauthorized use”.

The risks should be assessed and appropriate measures taken to reduce identified risks, e.g. the installation of intruder lighting and/or alarms. Signs prohibiting unauthorized use should also be displayed.

For some paddling pools of substantial size and depth, these measures will be appropriate and suitable. For others, whilst some security is desirable, to prevent young children from straying in, as well as to keep out unauthorized users (particularly dogs), the risk of serious injury from unauthorized use is likely to be less than for outdoor swimming pools. In addition, the location may not be suited to high fences or high walls. In these cases, security and safety precautions to prevent drowning will need to be provided in another way.

Consideration should be given to:

  • A pool cover of a type is secured around the edge of the pool such that it can support the weight of a person.
  • Alternatively, and a strong recommendation within this guidance note, The pool should be emptied of water after every use thus ensuring there is no risk of drowning accidents.
  • There is still the hazard of someone falling into the empty paddling pool but this can be safeguarded against through the use of either a protective boundary or the paddling pool could stand above ground surrounded by an upstand.
  • There should be a designated user zone around the paddling pool with a minimum distance from the pool edge to the boundary enclosure of two meters, though the distance could be much greater.
  • The height of the boundary should be about 0.75m (30 inches) and the entry points should be fitted with gates that will secure on closure and be difficult for the very young to open.

What are the common injuries in paddling pools?

Common injuries in paddling pools include dislocated shoulder (anterior), broken nose, external otitis (swimmer’s ear), exostosis (surfer’s ear), tendonitis, sprained ankle, and bruised ego.

How can I prevent injuries in paddling pools?

Here are some tips for paddling pool safety:

  1. Never leave a baby, toddler, or child in a paddling pool even for the shortest time. It takes a moment for them to slip under the water which can be fatal.
  2. If you need to leave them to get something or to answer the front door or the phone, take them out of the pool while you are away.
  3. No jumping or diving into shallow water.
  4. Don’t run around the pool due to slippery surfaces.
  5. Never swim alone.
  6. Don’t jump in to save someone, use a flotation device to help them (for example rescue tubes, ring buoys, etc.)1.

If someone is drowning in a paddling pool, you should not jump in to save them. Instead, use a flotation device to help them (for example rescue tubes, ring buoys, etc.).