Getting the most out of your pool requires that you take the right steps. I think that one aspect of owning a pool that often gets overlooked is the safety side of things. Pool ownership can be a wonderful experience if the proper precautions are taken into consideration. It seems to me that many people overlook some of the basic steps that one could take toward a safer, fun filled summer. If you have read my other posts, you will have noticed that a small hand full of them are specifically about how to stay safe around the swimming pool. This includes everything from the proper chemicals to RWI’s, to steps you can take to ensure that people stay safe while swimming. It has been a while since I have written about swimming pool safety. For that reason, today I want to briefly touch on ways to ensure that your pool is safe.
Swimming pool safety is probably the single most important part about owning a pool. After all, the fun of owning a pool goes away if it is not safe. Even though I consider my pool safe I am always on alert when I have people over. Especially if those people include kids. I have written several posts about how to be physically safe in the pool. The fact is that I have probably covered most precautions that can be taken to remain safe in the pool. Today I am going write a post to refresh the memories of those who have already read my previous posts on this subject. If this is your first time reading one of these posts then pay close attention, the information within is especially valuable if you have children.
To start I want to discuss the things that you can do to help ensure the safety of those using your pool.
Being that there have been a few instances this year already of people being shocked in their pools, or community pools I want to stress the fact that you should have the electrical components of your pool inspected each year. If you see that the light in the pool has water inside of it or even if it has algae starting to grow then that is a sign that there is a leak in the light. A leaky light can be a dangerous thing. Today more and more builders are using low voltage lighting in the new pools that they install, however years ago all the lights installed in pools were the standard 120v.
Another thing to watch out for is people using electrical devices too close to the pool. I understand that having a radio playing while people are enjoying the pool is a very nice luxury, however just make sure that it is either running on batteries or that it is at least five feet away from the water at all times. Obviously water and electricity do not mix so do your best to not get an unfortunate reminder.
Overhead wires are another concern of mine. Not that they are going to suddenly fall into the pool or anything, but there is a degree of danger that is associated with them. Think about what you do in regard to pool maintenance. I know that a lot of people will vacuum their pools at least once a week. Keeping that in mind, what things do you need to vacuum your pool. Does a long aluminum extension pole come to mind? This is where the concern lies. When someone is vacuuming a pool they are focused on the bottom of the pool and not necessarily what is above their heads. Aluminum conducts electricity quite well and one slight touch of the pole to an overhead wire could very well be a horrible mistake. Just be cautious please.
Having a fence around your pool goes a long way in keeping people safe. Many states require a fence around the pool. Some will allow you to have either a fence or an automatic pool cover. Check your local building codes to determine what is needed at your pool. If you do end up getting a fence around your pool there are a few things that you should keep in mind. One is that the fence should be at least 4 feet tall. I would personally go a little taller on it but that is ultimately up to you. Another thing that you should be aware of is that the gate to access the pool area should open away from the pool, and have some kind of automatic latching mechanism on it at the top so that it cannot be left open. You may be wondering why it matters that the gate opens away from the pool. Think of it this way, if the latch to open the gate is at the top then a little person attempting to gain access to the pool area would have to get a chair or something to stand on in order to reach it. More than likely they will place it right in front of the gate. If they do get it unlatched, making sure it opens toward them would add an even bigger challenge and likely force them to give up. Does that make sense? If the chair they are standing on is in the way of the gate opening then they will be more likely to give up trying to gain access. You could even go as far as installing an alarm system on your gate, or having motion activated lights in the pool area to deter anyone from trying to sneak in at night.
Automatic Pool Cover
This is an added bonus to the safety of your pool. In case you are not aware, there are covers available that allow you to open and close your pool at the touch of a button, or the turn of a key. Typically this is something that would have to be installed as the pool is being built, but if you have one then you are a step ahead in the pool safety game. These covers will usually come with either a code activated key pad or an actual key that you will have to turn and hold to uncover and cover the pool. Obviously if you don’t have the key or don’t have the code then gaining access to the pool will be much more difficult. These are not always required but they definitely add to the safety of the pool area.
Clean up the pool area
This is more for if you have smaller children in the house. The theory behind this is that if a lot of pool toys are left scattered around the pool after “pool time” is over then small children might see them and be tempted to enter the pool area to retrieve a toy that they remember having fun with earlier. If you as the adult were to remove the pool toys from the pool area, or store them in a deck side container of some sort then you will have effectively removed the temptation to enter the pool area later on. Along with this idea is the notion to have an ordinary looking chlorine feeder in the pool rather than one that looks like a dolphin or alligator or whatever. Cute little alligator or dolphin chlorine feeders in the pool may look like toys to smaller children and possibly give them that temptation to enter the pool area again.
Have an undistracted, responsible adult supervise children in the pool
The key words in this are “undistracted”, “responsible”, and “adult”. This does not mean teenager, with ear buds, and a Facebook friendly smart phone. The supervising adult should be alert and capable of reacting quickly. Great grandma and her life alert pendant might not be the best supervisor for the swimming pool. Ideally the supervisor should be an adult and have the understanding that they are there to watch the swimmers. They should be unconnected from the internet and have no other distractions while they are supervising. Although being tuned into your smart phone while supervising is a bad idea, actually having a phone nearby is a very good idea. In case an emergency were to occur you would be able to call 911 without having to leave the area.
Make a Pool Safety Tool Kit to keep near the pool
You can put anything you want in this kit but there are some things that you should definitely have in there. Below is a short list of the must haves in your pool safety too kit.
1) A first aid kit
2) A pair of scissors – to cut hair, clothing, or a pool cover it needed.
3) A charged telephone – to call 911 in the event of an emergency.
4) A floatation device – Foam noodles, water wings, and little inflatable rafts are not life saving devices – They are toys and do not replace the need for supervision by a responsible adult.
There are many other ways to ensure the safety of those using your pool. For more information regarding pool safety please check out my other blog posts with “Safety” in the title. You can also check out http://www.poolsafely.gov/ This website will give you the most up to date information available on how to remain safe in the pool. You can also find more general and specific information on vinyl liner in ground pools by checking out my other posts.
For some people, installing a swimming pool and purchasing a fence go hand in hand. Some might wonder if installing a fence is absolutely necessary. After all, they are already spending money on the pool itself and may not want the additional cost of installing a fence. It is important to know that depending on where you live a fence may be a requirement. Usually the state you live in will dictate if a fence is needed, however, in some places it is the county that will decide if a fence is required. Furthermore, depending on if you live in a neighborhood as apposed to the rural countryside, the neighborhood association may have their own requirement for a fence around your pool. Lastly, in some locations you will need to have an auto cover on your pool whether or not you have a fence, and some places will allow the use an auto cover instead of a fence. Being that there are several possible sources that necessitate a fence, it is best to do the research ahead of time.
The requirement for a fence is for safety purposes. It acts as a barrier between the pool and anyone who might try to gain access to it. That includes neighborhood children as well as your own children if you have them. Having a pool without a fence is typically viewed as a liability and having a fence will also help to protect you from legal action in the event that something does happen.
In addition to that, I strongly recommend having a fence installed around your pool area if not the entire backyard, even if you have an auto cover. I also recommend that it entirely enclose the pool. Having multiple barriers to overcome might be enough to prevent anyone from trying to gain access to the pool without your permission. If you have children and are planning to use the house itself as one side of the fence barrier, meaning that the fence encloses only three sides of the pool area and the house seals off the fourth, then it would also be a good idea to install some kind of alarm system. There are a few options of alarm system the you can choose from.
One would be installed on the doors and windows leading to the pool area, and would sound once the door or window is opened.
Another alarm would be installed pool side and would be activated by motion around the pool or in the pool. I know that children have the ability to be right next to you one minute and in the next they are out of sight. Just remember that it only takes a matter of minutes for a submersion injury to occur.
If the fence encloses all four side of the pool, you should make sure the fence is tall enough that it cannot be easily climbed. Again, a pool side alarm system would be a good investment. Also, make sure that the gates are self closing and self latching, with the latches out of reach of small children, and the door opens away from the pool. Children tend to be pretty good at problem solving. They may be try standing on a chair to reach the gates latch. With the gate opening away from the pool, if they do get it unlatched then they will soon realize that they are standing in the way of it opening. This is a good idea and may be what causes them to give up trying. If they do gain entry to the pool area, this would be a situation in which an auto cover would be very beneficial. It would act as another barrier between them and the water. They would either need to know a code and how to properly enter it to get the cover open, or they would need to have a key to be able to remove the cover. With kids, it is important to remove any temptation to gain access to the pool area and put as many barriers between them and the water.
Another thing to help eliminate the temptation of gaining access to the pool area is to remove any toys or objects that might draw a child’s attention. After a day of swimming, clean any pool toys from the pool and put them in a place out of sight. This will help to prevent a child from trying to enter the pool area to retrieve something that they played with earlier in the day. I know these might sound like a lot of steps to take, but they are well worth it.
When it comes to deciding if you need a fence or not, it is best to research ahead of time. Check into state laws, county codes, and association rules. Some places will require them, and others may not, but regardless of if a fence is legally required or not, it is still a good idea to install one around your swimming pool. Additional safety measures never hurt, and you might find that they are well worth it.
For more safety information visit poolsafely.gov
Swimming Pool Safety
If you are in need of more information, check out www.poolsafely.gov This is a link to a government website that is full of useful information. Information used in this blog was obtained from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Despite the cold and snow, the pool season is around the corner. It maybe further around the corner for some, but still, it’s there. There is never a bad time to start thinking about swimming pool safety, and with the season approaching one must ask themselves, “Am I ready?” Some new pool owners might be wondering why there is such a push for swimming pool safety, or what can they do to make sure that the season goes off without a hitch. I intend to give important information about these topics today.
There are a few main factors that increase the risk of drowning, such as lack of swimming ability, lack of barriers to prevent unsupervised swimming, lack of close supervision, failure to wear life jackets (they are not just for the lake), alcohol use, and seizure disorders.
LIFE JACKETS, LIFE JACKETS, LIFE JACKETS!!! “Water wings,” “noodles,” and other air filled toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe. Supervision is key, there should always be a designated adult to watch young children in and around the pool. The younger the child is, the closer the adult should be. Children preschool aged and younger should always be within reach of an adult. Keep in mind that drowning can happen quick and quietly. Supervision should be the only thing the designated adult concerns themselves with. IPhones, Facebook, Twitter and all other distractions can wait. If someone in or around your pool area is subject to seizures, that person should have their own personal supervisor. For us older folks, we need to avoid alcohol.
I know that this may sound like a drag to some. Lets face it: cold drinks, middle of summer, pool parties. They all sound like a blast, right? The truth is that alcohol obviously affects the brain, slows reaction time, and impairs motor function. Those, my friends, are absolutely necessary when swimming. Unfortunately, the combinations of drinking and swimming is what took my friend’s life at such a young age. In addition to that, adults under the influence are different than a small child in a panic. One difference is that they may not know their limitations. The other is that adults are obviously are larger, and in a rescue attempt might actually put the child in danger. Another important thing to avoid is allowing swimmers to “hyperventilate” before swimming under water, or holding their breath for long periods of time. Those actions could result in what is know as “shallow water blackout”. Lastly, be aware of the weather conditions. Pools and lightning do not mix. When I was young, my family and I were swimming when the clouds started getting dark. We heard what sounded like thunder followed by a strange sizzle, and at that time my mother said it was time to get out. When we started unfolding the solar cover that had been draped over the railing of the pool deck, we noticed that is had evidently been hit by lightning as we could see by the melted, blackened plastic that stuck together as we unfolded it.
There are many other products available to help protect your loved ones, including alarms, and automatic door locks. Also, you should keep the pool area clear of pool toys when not in use. This prevents the child from being tempted to enter the pool area to retrieve such things. These are some of the best pool safety tips for keeping you children safe around the pool. Follow these guidelines and have a fun filled and safe swimming pool experience.