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.