Many swimming pool accidents, deaths and drowning could be prevented. That is a sobering reality, but reality it is. If you’re a pool owner who has children (or pets) in the house, you need to look at your swimming pool with a critical eye and talk with your swimming pool contractor about whether it is as safe as it can be.
“Safe enough” is not good enough. You have to feel as though your swimming pool is a fortress. You need to look at the pool from up high and below and see any potential areas where a curious child could breach its barriers. Children can scale a chain link fence. They could be motivated enough to drag over a picnic bench and scale a fence or shimmy through a hole in a fence. Remember, what it was like when you were a child? If you wanted to get into the pool, you would.
Pool safety needs to always be front of mind. You don’t want your children to be afraid of the pool, but you want to make sure they have a healthy respect for it and for never going into the pool area alone. Even adults shouldn’t swim alone.
Is Your Swimming Pool Safe Enough?
Here are some layers of safety to consider for your family pool:
- Door alarms; if anyone (a child) leaves the house the alarm will sound
- Pool safety fences (these are required by law)
- Pool safety nets and safety covers
- Fence alarms
- Floating pool alarms
- Swim lessons and pool safety equipment poolside as well as life vests
- Constant supervision
- Motion-activated cameras to monitor the pool area and the back yard
- Moisture-activated pool safety bracelets for the children.
In addition to all of these measures, you can consider having a pool barrier constructed to keep children and pets out of the swimming pool. Here are some pool barrier ideas:
- Fences. Again this is likely required by municipal law where you live — the height and construction material may also be mandated.
- Outdoor fireplaces and kitchens
- A decorative wall
- Pool house
- Thorny bushes
Pool fencing, pool covers and pool safety nets are typically the most cost effective.
Pool safety fences need to encircle the entire swimming pool. It needs to be constructed of a material a child cannot climb (no chain link), cannot scale or cannot crawl under. The fence, much like a baby’s crib, needs to have gaps that are no wider than three inches and should be at least four feet tall.
Your pool contractor and code enforcement officer will fill you in on local requirements.
The pool safety cover is a barrier to keep children out of the pool in the event they have breached the fence or other barrier. The pool safety cover stretches tightly across the top of the swimming pool, is anchored into the pool deck and typically thwarts children from undoing it. Some of these covers can support up to a 5,000 pound car and can safely support a young child and keep him out of the water.
Pool safety covers require time and effort to put on, but the time it takes shouldn’t be considered a reason to not use it — especially if you want to keep children and pets safe.
Pool safety net
This is a relatively new safety option that forms a tight web across the surface of the swimming pool. The cover will allow water to get in and doesn’t keep debris out, but can keep children from falling through. They are easier and quicker to install than a pool safety cover, but may not offer as much practical safety as a pool safety cover.
So many options? What’s best?
As with almost anything to do with your pool, many items are a personal choice and each has its unique advantages and disadvantages. You know your family best and you know what you need to keep the pool as unbreachable as possible.
If you simply don’t know which way to go talk with your pool contractor, ask friends and family, weigh the pros and cons and know which device/devices you’re more likely to be diligent about and choose that one.
A multi-layered pool safety approach is considered best and is a strategy pool contractors recommend.
Safety matters bottom line
Invest in self closing fences. Use alarms that are easy to turn on and off and that you remember to use them. If you can find self setting and self programming locks — more the better!
Adult supervision in and around the pool at ALL times is the best safety measure you can employ. Never skimp on pool safety measures — the cost of doing so could be one you never want to pay. Make sure your pool is always safe and is always a place that sparks joy and has happy memories you’re building with friends and family that make you smile long after the pool is gone!