How do I minimize the risks that accompany a residential swimming pool? For some, having a swimming pool is part of the American dream. A swim is refreshing and good exercise. A pool can be one of the major social gathering places for your family and friends.
Unfortunately, pools also present a number of significant risks – to you, your family, and others. According to the CDC, drowning is one of the leading causes of death and injury for children between one and four years of age.
The death or significant injury of a child is a traumatic experience that no one should have to experience (and remember: with insurance, higher risks can lead to higher premiums).
Swimming Pool Safety Tips:
As a homeowner, there are a number of steps that you can take to help minimize the chances of death or injury in your pool:
- Life preservers: both life preserver rings and a rescue pole with shepherd’s crook should be visible and easily accessible around your pool. This will make it less likely that non-swimmers hurt themselves trying to save others and will also make it easier for others to assist a swimmer in distress.
- Understanding Signs of Distress – What Drowning Usually Looks Like: Most people assume that the drowning of a swimmer is like it is in the movies, with splashing, calls for help, and a lot of commotion. While this is sometimes the case, drowning is often silent, and difficult to notice. Unless you know what drowning actually looks like, and are actively watching your pool, you can easily miss a drowning. Related news video – “Drowning Is Silent”
- Childproof, Self-Locking Gates: It is important that you fence your pool and that you utilize childproof, self-locking and self-closing gates. These will help prevent young children from entering your pool without the assistance of an adult. If you only fence your pool on three sides, and your home serves as the fourth wall of the fencing, it is important that you find a way to control and monitor access to the pool from your home. You will want to find ways to lock the doors and windows between your home and the pool and you also may want to alarm the windows and doors with an audible alarm that warns you when someone has opened them. Numerous drownings occur when, unbeknownst to parents, toddlers enter the pool area from the back of the home. Another solution to this problem is putting a fence between the back of your home and the pool, so that your pool is fenced on all four sides.
- Outfitting Your Pool With Alarms: Audible alarms are available that detect either surface disruption or activity below the surface. Talk to your pool supplier about alarm options.
- Water Clarity: Maintaining proper water clarity is essential to the proper monitoring of your pool. If you can’t see clearly, a swimmer could drown without you or others noticing.
- Enforcing The Buddy System: Children or non-swimmers should never be left alone in a pool. It is essential that an adult who can swim be present to observe and monitor the pool at all times while it is in use. Remember, drowning can be difficult to notice, even for a trained observer.
- Avoid Having Too Many Swimmers In The Pool: One adult can safely monitor only a small number of children in a pool. The more crowded a pool gets, the more difficult it is to spot a swimmer in distress, even with multiple adults watching. There have been numerous drownings in crowded pools where no one noticed.
- Enforce A No Headfirst Rule: It is wise to make it clearly understood that you always expect swimmers to enter the pool feet first. The significant risk of neck and spinal injury is reduced greatly if swimmers always enter feet first.
- Enforce A No Running Rule: Guests should not be allowed to run on pool decking. The chances of slips, trips, and falls will be greatly reduced if guests only walk.
- Keep Deck Areas Clean: Decking, particularly tile and wood, can become extremely slick if not properly cleaned and maintained.
- Replace Improper Drains: Children and adults can become entrapped on drains that do not meet present safety standards. The suction from old style drains can hold swimmers under water and in some cases have actually sucked the intestines out of swimmers. You should have your pool service contractor check your drains to make sure they meet present safety standards. Click Here for a link to more information.
- Teach Your Children How To Swim & About Pool Safety. Set rules as respects the pool and enforce them diligently. No exceptions.
- When A Child Goes Missing: Make the pool be the first place that you look.
- Utilize A Pool Cover When Your Pool Is Not In Use: In addition to making it less likely that there is an accidental drowning, it will reduce the costs of keeping your pool warm, keep dirt and debris out of your pool, reduce the amount of chemicals you need to use, and help prevent evaporation.
- Proper Storage of Pool Chemicals: Pool chemicals can be extremely hazardous, particularly liquid bleach. It is essential that they be properly stored, preferably in a locked box or cabinet, to prevent unsupervised access.
These are just a few helpful suggestions on pool safety. For more information, visit the CDC Pool Safety and Poolsafely.gov websites using the links below:
You should also strongly consider taking first aid, CPR, and lifeguard training. Knowing what to do when an emergency does occur can make a big difference in the ultimate outcome.
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