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Swimming Pool Safety

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  by Kimberly Blackford

A quick dip in the refreshing waters of your swimming pool is a favorite activity on a hot summer’s day. Families and friends will love splashing around in the cool water of your swimming pool whenever they get the chance. So, how can an innocent family activity turn so deadly? It’s important to consider several safety precautions when you own a swimming pool so that that these special times can be enjoyed to the fullest.

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Not surprisingly, the National Center for Injury Prevention cites that drowning is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and four. And, in the Sunbelt states, drowning becomes the leading cause of death in this age group.

Obviously, adult supervision poolside is vital to keeping children of all ages safe, but there are other safety factors to consider if you plan to build a swimming pool in your backyard.

house with swimming pool and surrounding fence

 

Homeowners considering a pool are aware of the fact that a fence at least 4 feet high will need to be installed. In past years, homeowners opted for perimeter style fencing that would keep neighborhood children and others out, but offered full access from their house for the entire family at any time. Today, many homeowners are choosing isolation fencing that surrounds the pool, the patio and all doors that lead from the home to the pool area. This offers more peace of mind for parents of toddlers who are mobile and open doors and gain access to the outdoors quickly. Isolation fencing keeps children from gaining access to the pool from the home easily. Another area of concern is “doggy doors” because a toddler can fit through these entries and can be well on their way to the pool in no time. So, this often overlooked entry point needs to be guarded by the isolation style fence as well.

 

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Proper locking mechanisms need to keep the fencing you select secure. Magnetic types are great because they allow the fence to be securely shut while not needing a special key or code to gain entry to the pool area. This may be the perfect option if you have isolation fencing and don’t want to find yourself suddenly locked out of your own pool area. One thing to keep in mind, this type of lock should be located as high on the fence as you can. Although a secure choice, if a persistent toddler has the ability to reach the lock, it may become no obstacle to them! When it comes to keeping out strangers and others, any backyard access to the pool may be better locked with a padlock or key lock that will offer complete security when you are not home.

Secure fencing and locks are a given with pool security, but there are other factors that shouldn’t be overlooked. Those who own pools know that there should be layers of protection in keeping everyone safe.

Consider a motor-powered pool safety cover that can be placed over the water when the pool is not in use. Many covers are designed today to hold great amounts of weight so there’s no chance it will not support a child in the event they get to it.

Consider installing alarms on the doors and windows that can access the pool. As soon as any of these entry points open, an alarm would sound alerting homeowners to inspect the situation. Also, installing child locks on windows and doors leading to the pool area will add another layer of protection for little ones. There are also pool alarms on the market today that are installed underwater and can work in conjunction with pool covers. Be sure to place the remote receivers in areas within the home so the alarm can be heard both inside and out.

In addition, always place rescue equipment near the pool in case someone appears to be in distress. And, if a child is not familiar with the water, require that a life jacket or other flotation devices are used at all times.

Another great idea is to get family and friends involved by designating a “water watcher”. Depending on the size of the group enjoying the pool, one or two water watchers are usually enough. These “watchers” will make their job a priority and will oversee the children swimming and take quick counts to make sure they can see everyone enjoying the pool at all times. Keep in mind, that even though a grandparent or older individual may be a trusted choice to oversee the swimmers, designating this task to someone who could quickly take action and help someone in need may be the best choice.

Always remember to keep a cell or cordless phone near the pool when children are swimming. All too often a ringing telephone will distract a mother or father and suddenly take them indoors to answer the call. Just one moment without adult supervision could result in a horrible outcome. Eliminate this problem by keeping a phone right near the action at the pool.

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When the pool is not in use, remember to bring in all toys and other fun activities related to the pool indoors. It would be unfortunate to think that these things intended for fun would lure your child back to the unattended water. Remove the toys, and chances are, your child will be less likely to find a way to the pool.

Often overlooked, pool chemicals should not be stored near the pool or in reach of children. These chemicals are harmful to people and animals and should be treated this way. Keep them with any other toxic materials far from children.

Besides these great tips, it’s always a wise idea to have family members take a course together to learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). It’s even better to include a babysitter or other caregiver in this learning experience.

Pool ownership is a great responsibility, but can be one of the greatest activities for the entire family. If you begin with strict safety measures from the start and a variety ways of protecting your loved ones, it will create greater peace of mind for everyone who enjoys your refreshing pool all throughout the summer and year.

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