A swimming pool is one of the best gifts you can give your family. It provides your children with hours of fun in the sun and plenty of daily exercise. A pool is also a setting for good family memories that will last forever. All of this fun and exercise, however, requires a high level of responsibility and safety. With summertime in full swing, there's no better time to go over a few summer pool safety tips so that your backyard pool is a safe place, regardless of whether or not it's being used.
#1 – Adult Supervision is a Must
If there are children in your pool (or in your yard that has a pool), then an adult needs to be present at all times. The adult should be alert and have a constant watch on the children, because when accidents happen, they happen quickly and reaction time is important. Being present means just that. Don't be distracted by the phone, cell phone, computer, or neighbors stopping by for a chat. There is no substitution for adult supervision.
#2 – Educate Your Children (and Others) About Pool Safety
Before you let your children or their friends enter the pool, take a few minutes with them to go over the basics of pool safety. Children must know to never run around the swimming pool. Diving is never permitted, even in the deep end of the pool. Teach children to never hold anyone underwater at any time (not even during a game), and to stay away from any main drains in the pool. Show all children and adults where to locate the U.S. Coast Guard Safety Ring Buoy, which should be stored close to the pool at all times. Always stow all pool toys and floats away when they are no longer in use.
Any child or adult that is not a strong swimmer should always wear a life jacket. Swimming lessons for all ages are a great way to learn safety in (and respect for) the water. Many community organizations (such as your local Y) offer inexpensive swimming classes. But remember...just because a child learns to swim does not mean it is a substitute for adult supervision.
#3 – Surround the Pool with Fencing and a Locked Gate
Part of being a responsible pool owner is ensuring that the pool area is safe when it is not in use. Installing a swimming pool safety fence with a locked gate around the pool area (in addition to your property fencing) will help keep neighborhood kids from entering your pool when you're not home, and also deter toddlers when you are at home. The fence should be at least 4 1/2' feet tall with slats or material with weaves (such as those in BABY-LOC Removable Fencing), that are close enough together to prevent kids from squeezing between them. The fence should also be free of any handholds or footholds that kids might use for climbing over. The fence gate should be self-closing and self-latching and, if possible, equipped with an alarm.
#4 – Use Door Alarms
Along with the fence gate alarm, access doors going out to the swimming pool should also have alarms on them. These alarms will sound anytime someone opens a door which leads to the pool area.
#5 – Practice Access Restrictions
The swimming pool should only be used when an adult is present. This means you should lock all doors, windows and gates leading to the swimming pool area when you can't be poolside. You should also remove any step-stools, ladders, chairs, and other climbable toys or objects from the swimming pool area so that kids can't use them to get over your fence. If you have an above-ground swimming pool, always remove the ladder when it is not in use.
#6 – Use a Quality Swimming Pool Safety Cover
A high quality swimming pool safety cover (like those manufactured by LOOP-LOC®) is an effective way to keep your pool off-limits when it is not available for use. The cover should be installed properly and fully cover the top of the pool when not in use. Never leave the pool half-covered. Always install your safety cover when you are leaving for vacation or for extended periods of time (even in the summer months).
Additional Pool Safety Tips
In addition to the above six tips, a responsible swimming pool owner should also do the following:
- Keep a cell phone or home phone extension nearby when poolside
- Learn how to perform CPR and basic life-saving techniques on both children and adults (and go through a refresher course regularly)
- Keep a First Aid Kit (which should include scissors and a floatation device) nearby when pool is in use
- Have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Safety Ring Buoy within easy access of the pool
Stay Safe In and Around the Pool and Enjoy a Memorable Summer
Summer is synonymous with fun. And there's no better way to enjoy the summer than from the cool, soothing waters of your family swimming pool. Follow the tips listed above and you'll be putting yourself in the best position for the fun to last all summer long.