Okay, so Pool Safety isn’t the most original blog title, but it is extremely accurate. There are so many little things a pool owner can do to make backyard swimming enjoyable and safe. Many are common sense, while others may bring about a “Duh—I never thought of that!” moment.
Pool Ladders, Gates, and Fencing
If you have an above ground pool with a safety ladder, don’t leave the ladder down when not in use. Safety ladders are designed to swing up and lock in place. This removes a small child’s temptation of easy entry. Go one step farther and add a plastic coated, combination bicycle lock as a second security measure. For good measure keep the combination a secret that only you or other adult supervisors know. If you have a deck with steps to the platform, put a self-closing, self-latching gate on it. Then add that lock.
The Eastgate Pool Service Department frequently visit homes with gated access to the pool area. Unfortunately, many of our patrons tell us they will leave the gate unlocked because they won’t be home. Please don’t do this. Get a combination bicycle lock and give us the combination, then use this only on service-call days. We’ll unlock it, perform the service work, then re-lock the gate upon our exit. When you get home, you can remove the temporary lock and revert to your own locking system. But remember that a gate that isn’t locked isn’t a deterrent so keep it locked.
Many communities have fencing requirements, so always follow your local zoning laws. Here’s one more idea. If you own an above ground pool that was built into a steep hillside, go a step farther with safety. I’ve seen many instances where the surrounding yard is nearly as high as the top of the pool wall. As a result, this becomes an easy way to get in a pool. Add some fencing to the pool in this area. Fencing is often sold in boxes that contain x-number of sections. Thus, you don’t have to buy a complete fence if not needed.
Automatic Pool Vacuums are not Swim Partners
Auto cleaners are great at reducing tedious manual pool cleaning. I highly recommend them. However, most include hoses or cords leading from the unit to a skimmer, a return, or a power source. Always remove cleaners from the pool before swimming to avoid entanglement issues.
Speaking of keeping pools clean, many have a deep-end intake that connects to the main filtration system. Regularly check drain covers to make sure they are secure and in good shape. I’d suggest shutting the deep-water intake off when anyone is swimming, or even turning the filtration system completely off. If equipped with a two-speed or variable speed motor, turn it down to its lowest setting.
It Isn’t Rocket Science
Good pool safety practices often are mere common sense. Here are a few things to help get you thinking:
- Never leave small children unattended around the pool. Put down the smartphone or book and watch them closely.
- Do not permit diving in any pool that is not rated as a diving pool. And even then, only dive in the areas of the pool that have approved depth for diving. Have swimmers perfect their cannonballs instead of headfirst dives.
- Do you use a solar cover on your pool? Don’t even think about swimming without it first being totally removed before you enter the pool.
- Keep safety equipment such as shepherd hooks and floatation rings nearby and accessible.
- If your pool is equipped with an auto cover, use it, and keep the pool closed when not in use. Plus, there are added benefits to the safety aspect. Auto covers minimize water loss due to evaporation, reduce chemical consumption, and keep your pool cleaner. But always open the pool completely when swimming. Never leave the cover partly closed.
- Consider getting a pool alarm but remember that alarms are only as dependable as the people responding to them. They don’t replace direct supervision. If you are inside with the television or sound system on, you may not hear the alarm.
- Never swim alone.
- Teach children how to swim!
Cooling off in the family pool on a hot, sweltering day makes summer what it is: Great! Doing it safely adds piece of mind.
Visit the American Red Cross website for more safety tips, and feel free to add your own ideas here.