Tips For Families to Keep Their Backyard Pools Safe
The biggest problem with swimming pool safety is that common sense is not so common. In most cases, safety and security in and around backyard pools is dependent on common sense. For instance, children should be watched and attended to at all times, and most especially while swimming. When it comes to infants and toddlers, adult supervision is vital, and should be “within arm’s reach” – something the experts call “touch supervision.” For older children, adult supervision means no distractions – no phone chatter; no socializing; no alcohol consumption. A supervising adult should be a good swimmer for all backyard pools.
Backyard pools should have established rules and guidelines. It sounds clichéd, but there is no substitute for safety. Toys should be stowed away when they are not in use. Blow up accessories should be emptied. Any “riding” toys should be removed from the pool area. There shouldn’t be any electrical gadgets or appliances anywhere near the pool. Finally, swimmers should be aware that backyard pools aren’t for running around, and no diving is allowed in a pool that isn’t deep enough. With neighbors and visitors also using the pool facilities, it’s important for the homeowner to be vigilant about the rules – better to be safe than sorry.
In most municipalities, backyard pools require a fence of a specific height and construction. For the primary purpose of preventing small children from entering the pool, a fence should completely surround the pool area. In addition, fence height and construction should counter any possibility for a child to climb. Adults must ensure that nothing is close to the fence that might allow for easy climbing. Today, the so-called chain-link fence is no longer recommended for backyard pools. As for entry gates, these should be self-closing, self-latching, and always open away from the swimming pool (latches to be higher than a child’s reach).
When it comes to backyard pools that are aboveground, children should be kept well away from steps and ladders. A good rule when the pool is not being used is to remove ladders completely. Many backyard pools (inground and aboveground) are equipped with pool covers (some of them automated), and these should be designed to cover the entirety of the pool surface so that no entry is possible. As well, non-slip materials are highly recommended everywhere – the side of the pool, the diving board, even the ladders. For the ultimate in safety, experts suggest marking water depths visibly, and using a “float-line” to indicate the deep end.
Something less obvious with respect to backyard pools safety is swimming lessons. Most children are not too young to learn to swim, and proper swim lessons definitely set the stage for better habits in and around the pool. As such, lessons don’t ensure drown-proofing and there is never a substitute for constant parental supervision. Backyard pools are fabulous outdoor environments, and with everyone following the rules and guidelines, they can be safe and secure for family and friends alike.