So you have decided to get a swimming pool for your home but you have no idea where to start when it comes various safety issues that having a pool requires you to consider. In this guide we will be taking a look at how you can ensure your pool and swimmers are as safe as they can be.
Click on a chapter name below to jump directly to that chapter.
Swimming is one of the most beneficial cardio exercises you can do. It’s low impact on your joints, great for your muscles, and a perfect exercise for all ages. With this exercise, however, comes a particular set of risks that if you are mindful of will not become problems later. So what are a few of the precautions you should take before you ever start to swim?
Know How to Swim
It may seem self-evident but it still bears reminding that if you do not know how to swim, are a weak swimmer, or have any health issues that may hinder your swimming abilities, then you should use extreme caution or simply not swim at all. Many people drown every year by attempting to swim in an area not suitable for their skill level. If you would like to learn how to swim or to learn how to simply swim better and gain confidence in the water there are classes you can take by contacting your local YMCA or Red Cross or even calling your local city pool for class times. Many parks and recreation districts also offer classes for all levels of swimmers.
No swimming while under the influence
It doesn’t matter what kind of intoxicant it is. All drugs and alcohol have the ability to impair judgment and this can make swimming more dangerous even for experienced swimmers. Even over the counter medications or prescriptions can have negative effects when swimming so always check with your physician or pharmacist.
As tempting as it may be to swim alone, it also means you are alone if anything goes wrong. This is particularly important when swimming in out of the way or isolated areas like a quiet beach. Swimming together ensures a level of safety for you and your buddy when you swim.
Take precautions against rip currents/ rip tides
These currents can occur on beaches and rivers and are extremely dangerous to even the most experienced swimmers. A rip current can pull you far out to sea or out into the deep part of the river and it is very difficult to get out of. Rip currents can be identified by off color water or by debris that is being dragged out to sea. The only method to get out is to swim parallel to the shore until you are free from the current. Doing the corkscrew stroke is especially useful for this particular event.
Check for assigned swim areas
Going swimming in a designated swim area is a major precaution one can take to minimize risk. Swim areas are often marked with buoys or ropes and they are generally free from strong currents, debris, and other water hazards. Boats are not permitted in swim areas either and this leads to a greater level of safety for all swimmers in the water.
Bring lifesaving equipment
These can include things like lifejackets, a working cellphone, and a throw-able flotation device. Having small things like these on hand can mean the difference between a minor accident and a tragedy.
Look for lifeguards
When able and where available, swim near lifeguards. These trained professionals will assist in any emergency and can greatly reduce risk to swimmers especially children. Lifeguards are usually identified by signs near their station as well as red swimwear.
Watch your children
Even with life-saving equipment, a lifeguard, a designated swim area, and every other precaution, swimming can still be risky for children – especially those new to swimming. Keeping your children under supervision will help protect them and ensure their safety as you all enjoy playing in the water.
Having a pool is a huge luxury especially in areas with hot summers. The joys of being able to own and use your own pool must be tempered, however, with safety. Safety for both your swimmers and for yourself as the pool owner is a must especially in areas where children may swim. There are many different kinds of precautions you can take to ensure the highest safety of your pool; you can use some or all of the following tips to make sure that your pool brings you happiness for years to come and that you can avoid any accidents.
Although some people may balk at having a fence around their pool, a fence is perhaps the single best way to keep out unwanted or uninvited guests to your pool. Pool fences not only will keep out people but also animals who may wander too close. Using a fence to surround an outdoor pool is also a great way to avoid any accidental dips by distracted or curious people, especially young children.
Another pro about pool fences is that they can be built by fencers who specialize in pool fencing. This benefit ensures that your fence will meet the safety standards set for size and that the fence is made to the highest quality. The minimum height for a pool fence is 4 feet although they can be made to be taller. Depending on the size of your pool, fence height, or materials used, your price will vary, however there is no upper end price on protecting people’s lives, especially those of your neighbors or guests.
A great way to determine if you need a fence or not is to ask yourself who will have access to the pool? If you live with other adults and only adults will have access then perhaps a pool fence is not as vitally important. This could also be the case if your pool is fairly shallow and the safety of a pool fence is not needed. If children could conceivably have access to the pool, though, the fence becomes less of a nice formality and more of a solid precaution. Children will wander and stray outside and it takes just a few moments for them to go where they shouldn’t. Having a fence will help you have some peace of mind that kids will stay out of the pool while outside.
One last consideration about pool fences are the aesthetics of them. Many people dislike pool fences because it may block a pleasant view of their back yard or other landscape features. Enjoying your own home is important and if having a fence will have a major negative affect on your enjoyment of your yard then there are alternatives to the safety conscious pool owner.
If having a fence is too difficult or will significantly detract from the enjoyment of your back yard, a great alternative to fences are pool nets. Nets, when installed correctly, will keep out animals and children alike, helping your pool to stay people-free except for you and your guests. Another big benefit is that with a net, your landscape or garden does not have to be changed to accommodate the view like it does for a fence.
This is a great safety precaution to take if you have an above ground pool. A pool built into the ground can easily accommodate the 4 foot minimum height fence without issue, but a fence for an above ground pool may be harder to construct. A net is thus a great alternative for above ground pools where children or animals could scale the pool walls and cause injury to themselves.
Another nice benefit to nets is that unlike fences they can be made to fit any pool size while not blocking your view. Some companies like Katchakid make nets that are said to be unbreakable by daily wear and tear. These super strong materials help keep out even the most determined children and animals. What’s also great about nets is that once the children leave or after swimming season ends, the net can be taken down and stowed away for use later.
There is a potential issue with nets, however, and that is the net itself. Being a net it has many holes and gaps that children or animals can become enmeshed in and stuck. This is not a huge issue if there is adult supervision to help anyone who becomes trapped but it can be particularly dangerous to animals and pets who may get themselves more stuck as they struggle. This is something to be mindful if you live in an area with lots of domestic animals that roam or wildlife.
If your pool is situated in the garden, which is the most common place for them to be built, you are eventually going to have to deal with the issue of fauna and flora finding its way into your pool. This is especially the case if you have a lot of trees in your garden, as falling leaves can not only make your pool less appealing to swim in, but can also cause various issues with filters and other aspects of the pool.
One of the simplest solutions to this issue is a pool cover, which works in a similar way to a safety net in that it is designed to cover the entire area of the pool. However, this is where the similarities end, as a cover should not be considered a safety feature and can actually cause problems if somebody falls onto it without a net underneath to prevent them from getting wrapped in the cover while underwater.
However, as long as you keep pool safety in mind you should be able to use a cover to catch all of the leaves that would otherwise have found their way into your pool, allowing you to strip the cover back and enjoy a clearer swim in the process. Better yet, you won’t have to worry about debris clogging up vital areas of the pool and leading to issues that will cost a lot of money to repair.
State Laws for Signage
Pool signs are an essential part of any pool whether it be public or private. Pool signs not only protect those entering who may be unaware of the risks or hazards involved but also protect you as the owner who may be liable if the signs are not properly displayed or something covers the information required by state law.
If you have a private pool you may be wondering why you should have pool signs up since to get to your pool someone would have to be trespassing. However, many states put the burden on you to mitigate the risk, especially to children, who may not understand the risk involved or what trespassing means. This is known as “attractive nuisance” or in simplified terms: a foreseeable hazard that children may be drawn to on your property.
What you must display on your pool sign will vary from state to state so it is important to check your local state laws to find out what you must display on your sign, where you must display it, and what the proper legal size is. Find out about the laws of your particular state.
In addition to the equipment mentioned, which is good for all swimmers of all ages who may be in your pool, there are many other precautions you should take in regards to enhanced protection for children in your pool which you should keep in mind.
- Children should always have adult supervision at all times. Even if your child is a good swimmer, accidents happen at all skill levels. Even strong swimmers can have a medical problem, hit their head while diving, or be pulled too close to a pool filter. The experience level of the child is irrelevant when it comes to how closely you should supervise as it only takes a single slip or other accident to cause a tragedy. This is even more important in your private pool where there is no lifeguard on duty; you are your child’s lifeguard. If you have to step away and there are kids in the pool or going to your pool, have another responsible adult take over the watching duties.
- Another great trick you can use for all occasions is to be versed in pool first-aid. This allows you to help anyone who may be injured near the pool. Along with this it is also recommended that you seek out a CPR class. CPR classes are offered by the Red Cross and others and are useful not just for pool emergencies but all kinds of medical issues that may stop breathing and the heart. The techniques you will learn at your CPR class may not just protect your child but others as well.
- Here is one that cannot be overstated, be extremely careful of your pool’s chemical ratios! Pool chemicals, when used in proper amounts, will help reduce illness and unwanted algae growth and ensure the sanitation and cleanliness of your pool. However, those same chemicals, like chlorine, when mixed incorrectly can make people very sick, or they can lead to chemical burns, severe injury, and even death. Reading the instructions is a non-negotiable when adding the ratio to your pool. If you are having trouble understanding the instructions that came with your pool, then a great alternative is to consult a pool expert about what to do. When it comes to pool chemicals, you need to get it right.
- Do not allow running near your pool. If you have been to a public pool this is made very clear and with good reason, as running near water can cause a slip. Slipping on concrete, tile, wood, or even grass can lead to pool injuries or drowning. So make sure that you enforce the no running rule at private pools as well. A person who slips and injures himself may not be able to exit the pool, or worse could be unable to swim at all. This is something to be particularly mindful of if the slip happened in the shallow end where he or she could hit his or her head on the pool bottom and be knocked unconscious.
- The single biggest thing you can do to minimize the risks that could happen with your children around a pool is to enroll them in swim classes. It stands to reason that a child who knows how to swim is less likely to be in danger around a pool than one who does not. Having a child learn how to swim from a professional swimming instructor will not only improve their confidence and swimming performance but it will also help to encourage proper pool safety as well.
- The last tip is to have a simple throw-able flotation device. There are many such devices that can help a struggling swimmer like life rings or simple floats. These devices can be easily thrown out to somebody who is having trouble keeping afloat for whatever reason. Along with this it may be beneficial to take a lifeguard class and learn the proper way of saving a struggling swimmer. Hopefully you never have to use it, but if you do you will be ready to save a life and that is a great feeling.
If you follow these simple tips you will protect yourself and others, all the while being able to enjoy your pool and home for years to come.
Are Swimming Pools Health Hazards For Kids?
It is no surprise that pools can pose risks to children; however, those risks are not always in the ways we expect. New research is coming out that shows that over exposure to chlorine used to disinfect pools can be harmful to children. Chlorine is an important part of pool sanitation but the chlorine in the air and the pool can potentially cause problems for children who are over-exposed to it, problems like DNA damage or increased risk of cancer.
The evidence is inconclusive at this point as to whether chlorine causes long term harm to children. Until the science is settled, though, there are some mitigating factors: if the pool area smells very strongly of chlorine there is too much of it. Pools need good ventilation to minimize inhalation of chlorine. You can also encourage your local pool manager to think about alternatives to chlorine such as UV water treatment.
If you are the proud owner of a swimming pool the solution is not to stop disinfecting your pool. Disinfection protects against many pathogens and is vital for the health of you and your swimmers. For more information about the importance of sanitation, chlorine research, and possible alternatives check out this guide.