As the days get longer and the temps continue to rise, one thing is clear: Summer fun is right around the corner. For people who own pools and hot tubs, that means more time in the water. This, of course, comes with some added responsibility and the need for extra precautions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of more than 3,500 people unintentionally drowned between 2005 and 2014 in the U.S. alone. 20% of those victims were 14 years or younger.
To help ensure your summer is all fun and no accidents, pay attention to these 11 pool safety tips.
- Create barriers. For starters, surround your pool with a fence or similar barrier that’s at least 4-feet high and has a self-closing, self-locking gate. Safety covers should be securely placed over pools and hot tubs when they’re not being used, and ladders or other forms of access should be removed. If your house forms part of the pool barrier, install alarms on any doors or windows that access the pool area. For added peace of mind, a pool alarm can be installed to provide an alert when someone enters the water, and security cameras will help you keep an eye on the pool area when you’re not at home.
- Keep an eye on your kids. No one should ever swim alone, regardless of age, and children should not be left unattended – even for a few seconds. When people are in the pool, designate a pool watcher to keep an eye on the swimmers at all times. Kids are especially vulnerable and should wear a life jacket if they are not experienced, swimmers. Don’t rely on flimsy noodles or water wings to keep your child afloat. And be sure to remind your babysitters about rules for in and around the pool. Water safety is their responsibility as well.
- Learn to swim. Make sure everyone who uses your pool knows how to stay afloat. The best approach is to enroll your kids in swimming lessons at an early age. The Red Cross, YMCA, and your local parks and recreation department are great resources for budget-friendly learn-to-swim classes.
- Follow the rules. If you’re a pool owner, it’s important to establish and enforce a list of rules for in and around the pool – things like no running, no glass bottles, no diving and no swimming alone. To avoid alcohol-related accidents, limit the booze. Alcohol is a factor in up to 70% of all adolescent and adult deaths associated with water recreation, so all pool parties should be closely monitored.
- Stay away from drains and suction outlets. Hair, jewelry and clothing or bathing suits can easily get caught in a pool drain or suction opening. That’s why it’s also important to never enter a pool or hot tub with a missing drain. Be prepared for the worst by making sure someone present knows how to turn off the emergency vacuum, filters, and other devices. The suction force from pool filters and other devices could prevent a child from reaching the surface of the water.
- Know what to do in an emergency. In addition to having the proper safety and rescue equipment on-hand – such as ring buoys, poles for reaching the victim and a first aid kit – take the time to learn basic water rescue skills. If necessary, enroll in water safety and first aid courses. CPR certification is also a must, especially since it could save a life. Contact your local American Red Cross office or community hospital to learn more. Always keep a phone nearby, and make sure emergency phone numbers are readily accessible.
- Keep your pool properly maintained. Clean out leaves and twigs that could clog the drain or filter, and test the pool chemical levels on a regular basis. Chemical levels that are not properly balanced could lead to health problems, such as ear infections and skin irritations.
- Evaluate the diving hazard. Diving is a leading cause of pool-related accidents. Depending on the size and depth of your pool, you may want to prevent diving altogether. But if your pool is built to accommodate diving, be sure to post water depths so swimmers know where it’s safe to dive – and where it’s not. Always keep toys and debris away from the diving area.
- Remove toys when they’re not being used. Nothing tempts a small child to enter the water more than seeing his or her favorite water toy floating on the surface. Avoid any temptation to reach for the toy by removing it when you leave the pool area.
- Watch the weather. Rain and lightning often go hand in hand, so play it safe and stay away from the water during inclement weather.
- Review your insurance coverage. Talk with your insurance agent if you are considering buying a home with a pool or installing a pool. Not all insurers will cover a home with a pool, and owning a pool will likely increase your insurance liability with insurers that do, especially if your pool comes with a diving board or slide.
Looking forward to some summer fun in the sun? Start by following these pool safety tips.
For information only. Not applicable to all situations.