How To Keep Your Pool Safe
May 06, 2020 at 09:00 AM
A backyard swimming pool is beautiful and fun, but comes with its own set of responsibilities. The last thing any pool owner wants is for someone to get hurt or sick when using their backyard pool. Fortunately, there are laws and guidelines that mandate pool safety, and plenty of products on the market to help create layers of protection without detracting from the beauty of the pool.
First, a pool owner should consult local laws to see what’s required. Some jurisdictions have more stringent laws in place, such as minimum fencing height. Even if your pool doesn’t require much protection, it’s still a good idea to consider safety precautions in the form of a pool cover, alarm, and/ or fence.
You should also check with a pool professional about recommended water balance levels. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that you keep your pool water balance maintained, as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises that properly maintained pools will inactivate the spread of harmful viruses.
Pool cover. Covers are a great way to maintain safety. They not only keep children from inadvertently falling into the pool, but also keep unwanted leaves and debris out of the pool. Furthermore, covers help to save energy and conserve water by helping to keep in water, heat and chemicals that could otherwise evaporate into the atmosphere. Pool covers can be automatically or manually controlled. Automatic covers can be operated with a control pad or even your smartphone, so if you’ve left your house and forgotten to cover the pool, you can do so from anywhere in the world. Covers come in a number of fabric colors to coordinate with your backyard scene. They can be conformed to a new pool or even an existing pool, and can even fit over any odd-shaped swimming pool or hot tub. Manual covers operate with the twist of a handle and also come in multiple fabric colors.
Fence or barrier. In some states and local jurisdictions, a fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate is required. Even if it’s not, it’s still a good idea to install one. There are plenty of options for fences that meet code requirements without disrupting the aesthetics of your yard. Fences are usually required to be at least four feet in height. In some places, the side of a house or a thick hedge may serve as one wall of the barrier. Barriers can be wrought-iron, galvanized steel, white picket, or mesh, among many other styles. Some are created with a smooth line that works seamlessly into the landscaping. Above all, a fence gives owners a sense of relief that a child, grandchild, or young neighbor are prevented from wandering into the pool.
Pool alarm. There are several types of alarms that signal when the pool area is being disturbed, such as when the back door or the gate is opened, or when someone has entered the water. Water alarms are usually able to tell the difference between a larger creature versus a toy or rain, thereby possibly reducing the nuisance of an alarm constantly going off.
Lighting. Light all safety areas such as pool steps, entrances and exits.
The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals also recommends the following:
- Keeping a ring and/or hook by the pool
- Have a landline with emergency numbers on speed dial outside by the pool, in case a mobile phone isn’t nearby
- Ensure your swimming pool and/or hot tub complies with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (VGBA), which requires features to prevent entrapment. Entrapment can occur when a pool/spa suction outlet (drain) creates higher than allowable suction forces and can hold a bather/swimmer down at the suction outlet/drain cover, trapping them below the surface of the water. Make sure that the suction outlet (drain) covers are in good shape, not cracked/broken, and properly secured in place. Entrapment can also occur from openings in the pool wall or floor in which a child can get their arms or legs caught; protrusions in the pool walls on which bathing suits, hair or jewelry can get entangled in; or even features in the pool like ladders behind which a child can get stuck.
- When there’s a pool party going on with children, designate an adult to be a water-watcher. Rotate adults as needed, but make sure that adult understands his or her job is to watch the water and not to socialize.
- Make sure to routinely check that your gate is self-closing and self-latching, that your pool alarms are in working condition, and that the pool cover is also moving along its track and not broken
- Keep your swimming pool water clean and clear, so you can easily see the bottom of the pool for any anomalies
Well-Maintained Pool Water. When maintaining your pool water you should be testing the water frequently, as levels can change over the course of an hour due to a number of factors like sun exposure and pool usage. Keeping chlorine levels consistent at all times is important as chlorine is an essential part of killing off viruses, and protecting against bacteria and algae growth. There will be times when you will need to add chemicals to your swimming pool to maintain it. A pool without the right chemical balance can be hazardous to swim in. Installing equipment like a salt chlorinator, which generates its own chlorine as needed, can help regulate chemicals which is helpful in marinating a perfect pool water balance.
Water quality should be checked at a minimum of once per week during the summer, but the more often you check, the better off you are. Pools should also be checked during the off season, although frequency is not as important then — every couple of weeks is often enough to ensure the stagnant water isn’t harboring dangerous bacteria. For a more convenient and accurate way of ensuring water is balanced, you can add a Blueriiot™ Smart Water Analyzer to your pool. This easy-to-use device automatically takes precise water balance readings and delivers real-time reports, along with chemical recommendations with step-by-step instructions, right to an app on yours and your pool pro’s phone for round-the-clock watch over your water chemistry.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, make sure everyone in your household knows how to swim. Consider enrolling children in swimming lessons, even if they haven’t mastered the freestyle (or doggy paddle) they’ll learn safety rules and lessons like not to enter the water without an adult, or what to do if they accidentally fall in. Always remember that a lesson in swimming pool safety can save a life.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published December 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.