Swimming Pool Safety for Children and Adults
A swimming pool can be a great addition to any home. But swimming pool safety should be a first concern. Without the proper safety measures, a pool can pose a dangerous risk to children and adults. Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4. Learning what you can do to make your pool safer can save a life.
The Importance of Swimming Pool Safety
Drowning is the number one cause of death in children 1-4 years old. But you can take some simple steps that will dramatically increase the safety of your pool. Knowing how to secure your pool from accidental access and other dangers could save a life. In addition to securing your pool, knowing what to do if someone falls in or is drowning can make the difference between life and death.
Securing Your Pool
Most states now require that residential swimming pools be surrounded by a fence. If you live in an older home that was built before these laws went into effect you may not have a fence. If that is the case, you should install one right away. Appropriate fencing is the absolute best way to keep children from accidentally falling into a swimming pool.
A pool fence should be at least 48 inches tall. As important as your fence is, the gate to your fence is the most important part of your fence. A poorly secured gate can render a fence completely useless, so following guidelines for proper gate security is essential. A gate should have a latch that is at least 54 inches from the ground. Make sure that any gate is self-closing and self-latching.
The fence around a pool should be impossible to climb, with no hand or foot holds. Chain link fences are easy to climb and are not recommended for securing a pool. Keep all objects away from the fence. Lawn furniture, children’s toys, or anything else a child could stand on to get over the fence should be kept far away. In addition to installing a gate that is hard to climb, teach children never to try to climb the pool fence. Rules alone should never be trusted to keep children safe. But rules can go hand in hand with other appropriate security measures.
There are a number of alarms that you can use to alert you if someone approaches or falls into your pool. One type of alarm is a pool perimeter alarm. This is basically an invisible fence created with lasers that surrounds the pool. If the laser beam is disrupted by someone breaching the perimeter, an alarm will sound. This is not a replacement for a physical security fence, but it can be an important second barrier.
Gate alarms are also a great way to increase the security of your physical security fence. Most fence alarms work with a magnetic field. Half of the alarm is attached to the gate and the other half is attached to the fence or doorpost, so that both parts are in contact when the gate is closed. When the gate is opened the connection between the two parts is broken and an alarm is set off. This can help keep parents aware if a child or anyone else is trying to enter the pool area unsupervised. Gate alarms can also be used on doors that go from the house to the pool area.
A unique type of alarm is a pressure alarm that is placed in the pool itself. This type of alarm sits at the edge of the pool and has an arm or tube that reaches down into the pool water. When an object (or person) falls into the pool, the pressure alarm registers the resulting wave and sets off an alarm similar to a car alarm. While this type of alarm should be a last resort, it can literally save lives when used in combination with other measures. Most of these alarms work with any object or person 18 pounds or heavier.
A pool cover can be a safety feature, but only if you use the right kind of cover. There are a few different types of safety covers. One type looks like a trampoline, but is pulled taut so that a person could actually walk across it. Another type of cover is a hard cover that extends over the pool and is also rated for enough weight that an adult could safely walk across it. Installing a cover that automatically extends over the pool with the flip of a switch will help to ensure that the cover is used every time and is always affixed properly. Floating solar covers should be avoided. Not only will they not keep a person from falling through into the water, they can actually trap someone in the water if they get caught beneath the cover.
Pool drains should be in good working order and covered with drain covers that meet safety standards. According to PoolSafely.gov, “Old, unsafe drain covers are flat and create a strong circulation that can easily trap hair or a body part if they become blocked. New, safer drains are designed to be curved so that they can never be fully blocked by a body part.”
Have your pool inspected for safety by a professional like those at The Pool Butler. They can help ensure that your pool meets all the latest safety standards so you can keep your family and guests out of harm’s way.
Know How to Use a Pool Safely
A pool may be safely secured when it is not in use, but it is just as important to be safe when a pool is in use. Setting out the right rules and following them can make the difference between life and death. The first rule to follow is to always have adult supervision. There is no substitute for vigilance on the part of an adult who can spot someone in trouble. Even older children should be supervised.
Never dive into a pool headfirst. Even a pool with a deep end poses a risk of serious spinal injury when diving head first. Instead, always dive into a pool feet first, and and never dive in less than 5 feet of water. The American Red Cross recommends a minimum of 9 feet of water depth for head first dives including dives from pool decks. Even with 9 feet of water, head first diving should be in a forward, not downward, direction. Never try to dive onto a pool toy or through a floating tube of any sort.
Other important rules to follow: Never use tricycles or other riding toys in the pool area. Do not run in a pool area. Never allow electrical appliances in the pool area.
Be Prepared to Save a Life
Keep safety gear readily available at all time. This includes a life saver with a rope attached. In case someone needs help, the lifesaver can be tossed into the pool for the person to grab onto, while the rope can be used to pull the person to the edge of the pool where they can be pulled out. A life hook (sometimes call a shepherd’s crook) is a device with a large stiff metal or plastic loop shaped into a hook. It attaches to a telescopic pole like the ones used for a pool net. If someone is in trouble, you can extend the hook and wrap it around a person to draw them to safety.
If you own a pool, you should learn CPR. Knowing CPR for children and adults could save a life.
Make sure that your pool is safe by following the guidelines above. You can always contact the professionals at The Pool Butler for more information on pool safety or to conduct a safety inspection of your pool.
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