Q: Could you offer some guidelines for people going to other people's homes to swim? We have a pool and love to share it with friends and family, but I am often surprised at how some people take advantage of the situation.
A: Most people who have pools like to share with friends and family, but common courtesies from their guests are a must, or hosting people can get old very quickly. Here are some guidelines everyone should keep in mind as a guest:
* Arrive at the appropriate time and don't overstay your welcome. If you are not invited for a meal, don't expect to be fed. Be sure you leave well in advance of the dinner hour.
* Don't show up unannounced, and don't bring extra friends and children if they haven't been invited. Gathering a few of your children's friends to join you is taking advantage.
* If your children are small and not good swimmers, be attentive to them. That means parents may need to be in the water with their little ones.
* Ask the hosts what their pool rules are and abide by them. Some people even post the rules outside.
* Don't come empty-handed. Bring some beverages and snacks to share with everyone. Your host will appreciate it.
* Bring your own towels, sunscreen and any special toys or floating devices needed for the little ones.
* Children in diapers need to be checked often. You may want to consider some waterproof diapers.
* Be sure to say thank you, and make sure your children do, too.
Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.