Whether you have kids of your own or not, keeping people, and especially children, safe around a backyard pool is one of the chief concerns of homeowners who decide to put in a swimming pool of their own. According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death for children ages 14 and under. So, what are the best ways to keep kids safe around your backyard pool?
Keep Out Uninvited Guests
There are few greater temptations for kids than sneaking into a neighbor’s pool on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, unsupervised children getting hurt in their swimming pool is the nightmare of homeowners everywhere. Luckily, there are a lot of ways that you can safeguard your swimming pool against uninvited guests.
First and foremost, having a fence installed completely around the pool will be the first line of defense for pool safety. Fences should be a minimum of four feet high, but five feet or higher is preferable. Access to the pool should be available through locked gates only. For added security, there are different types of pool alarms that can be added in and around pools to alert homeowners when the pool is being accessed without authorization. One option is an alarm that goes off when the gate is opened. Another type of pool alarm floats in the water like a buoy and sounds an alarm when the water is disturbed. You could also consider adding a motion-activated component to your security system that alerts you via your smartphone if there is movement in the pool area. When used together, these safety measures can help to keep uninvited guests safely out of the pool.
Check Safety Equipment
You can have every piece of safety equipment available installed in and around your pool, but if the equipment isn’t working properly, then it’s useless. For gates, alarms, and other exterior safety measures, you should be routinely checking them to ensure all features are functioning correctly. A gate with a broken lock or an alarm with dead batteries are worse than having no safety features at all, because they give you a false sense of security.
You’ll also want to ensure that you have all the proper safety features on the pool equipment itself, such as anti-entrapment drain covers. You’ll also want to have professionals regularly check your pool’s systems for other hazards, such as non-working drains, frayed electrical connections, etc. Pool professionals will be aware of all the common hazards associated with backyard pools and can advise you of any changes you should make to keep people safe around the pool.
Stay on Top of Maintenance
Contrary to what we’ve seen on television and movies, people who are drowning often don’t make any noise or splashing motions. In fact, it can be easy for a child to drown even when surrounded by other people. So, it’s critical to stay on top of pool maintenance to ensure the water is clear and that whomever is watching kids in the pool can see all the way to the bottom of the pool. In addition to being unsafe by limiting visibility, cloudy water can also signal a problem with the chemical balance of the water, which could mean the water isn’t safe for swimming anyway. If you struggle to keep the chemicals balanced and the water clear in the pool, you might consider switching from a traditional chlorine pool to a salt water pool, which requires less maintenance to keep the pH levels balanced.
Have an Emergency Plan
Hopefully with all the safety precautions you’re going to take, you’ll never have an emergency with your pool. However, it’s always better to have an emergency plan and not need it than for people to not know what to do in the event of an emergency. To start, you should talk to your kids and anyone who will be using your pool about water safety, and make sure everyone knows the rules, like no swimming without a grownup, etc. It’s also a good idea for adults to take a CPR class, which will give you an understanding of what to do in the event of an emergency. Kids should know how to call 911, in case the adult is the one who is injured and needs help. The intention of an emergency plan isn’t to scare anyone, but rather to keep everyone safe, and that’s an important point to emphasize when talking to kids about emergencies.
No one should ever swim in a pool completely alone. Even adults who are strong swimmers can have a sudden problem in the water that could lead to drowning without help. When it comes to kids in the water, though, supervision is even more critical. If there’s a group of people gathered around the pool, adults should take turns being the designated supervisor. Without a designated person to watch, everyone might think someone else is doing it and then no one could be watching. The designated supervisor should be focused on watching people in the water at all times and shouldn’t be looking at their phone or leaving the pool area. Adults can switch off doing the supervisor role, as long as everyone is clear about who has the job.
Since it’s inevitable that kids will be around water, even if you don’t have a pool of your own, getting them set up with swimming lessons at an early age could be a valuable skill. Though no swimming lessons could stop all possible scenarios of drowning, they do teach kids how to be safe in the water and give them important tools they can use if they do become distressed while swimming.
Being the person to enforce the rules can sometimes feel like a bummer, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to pool safety. Remind your guests that keeping everyone safe is always the number one priority, and that everyone can still have fun while engaging in good safety practices.
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