If you’ve put in a pool or moved to a house that has one recently, you’re probably wondering where you can get some toys to give the kids to play with in the water. But there’s that voice in the back of your head reminding you that the pool can also be dangerous. And indeed, everyone’s heard at least one horror story about a hapless child falling into an unattended pool. The results are never good, so it’s always a good idea to look into pool safety.
First things first: some residential zoning authorities have regulations pertaining to pool safety. These vary from place to place, so check your local laws, but they normally involve placing the pool a certain distance from your property line or installing a protective fence (normally it’s required to have a locking gate and be at least four feet tall). So, the first thing you’ll want to do is to make sure that your pool is up to code. If it is, you can start to think about what additional safety measures you’ll want to employ.The best way to maintain safety is always through education. While you may not be able to explain to your dog that the pool water is full of chlorine and not good for drinking, you can educate children and adults around you about the dangers of the pool and the proper way to use it. Explain to your children or the neighborhood kids why safety is important, and have a list of set-in-stone rules. Most people find that a no-running rule does much to reduce falls, as well as constant attention to any small children or children unable to swim who happen to be nearby. Have rules about keeping the pool gate closed and locked at all times, and about keeping the poolside clean whenever it’s not being used.
Caring for your pool fence and gate properly are also major concerns in pool safety. For example, you’ll want to check at least monthly that the fence is still solid and that the gate works as it’s supposed to. Remove any objects leaning against the fence, as young children need no excuse to go climbing up anything climbable in reach. Install a non-slip surface around the sides of the pool, so any rebels breaking your no-running rule (and accidents do happen) won’t crack their skulls sliding on wet concrete.
It’s always a good idea to have life jackets on hand, and if there’s a young child or family member who makes you nervous, don’t be shy about requiring the use of a life jacket. They did earn their name by saving lives, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry when making sure your pool is safe. Provide life jackets for any incompetent swimmers or anyone who wants them.
Pool chemicals are dangerous, and should be kept out of reach of children and pets. They’re used for killing bacteria, but in concentrated doses, they can do just as much damage to a dog or unsuspecting child. Additionally, and on the other hand, you’ll want to have life-saving equipment on hand just in case something does happen. And unlike the pool chemicals, your life-saving equipment should be readily apparent and easily usable by anyone–who knows, maybe it’s you who’ll need the saving one day?
Your pool is a great joy, but also a great responsibility. You have to take steps to make sure that while everyone has fun around the pool, no one gets hurt. There’s no way to ruin a lazy summer Sunday like a crying child. So keep your pets and kids out of the works of the pool and in the water, and make sure the pool is maintained and up to local code, and you should have no trouble at all relaxing the entire summer away by your luxurious pool.
Chris Hodson has been a long time safety advisor and first aid officer with a special emphasis on safety for kids. You can find him on Google+ and Facebook.
Originally posted on October 1, 2013 @ 9:55 am