Swimming Pool Safety Tips for Pool Owners
A safety approach that emphasizes layers of protection is your best bet to keep people safe in and around your pool. Consider installing some of these safety precautions to make sure your pool area is as safe as possible.
Pool alarms: Pool alarms alert you that someone is on the way to use your pool. These are useful because most drownings happen when adults don’t expect children to be swimming, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. There are several kinds of alarms and detectors.
Threshold alarms (also known as door alarms or gate alarms ) attach to doors, windows, and gates that lead to the pool and alert you when they open. You should mount the disarming button high enough that a child can’t easily reach it.
Wall-mounted alarms attach to the pool wall, pool deck, or fence and detect waves on the water’s surface to tell you when someone is in the pool. Turn it off when you’re swimming safely and re-arm it when you’re done.
Underwater motion detectors use sonar to look for motion under the water’s surface.
Personal detectors are worn by your child. They’re wristbands that start alarming when they get wet.
Floating sensors are ideal for above-ground pools or temporary installations, like if you’re visiting someone else’s pool where you can’t attach anything to the pool wall. They float on the surface of the water and sound an alarm when someone enters the pool. They’re portable and easy to take on vacation.
Pool fences: The American Academy of Pediatrics says pool fencing is the most effective, proven way to prevent kids from drowning. You can find both permanent and portable options. The fence should be at least 4 feet high and surround the pool on all sides; some places require pool barriers to be at least 60 inches tall, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Make sure the barrier doesn’t have handholds or footholds that kids can use to climb over, the CPSC recommends.
The fence should also be four-sided and separate the pool from the house and the yard, the Red Cross recommends. A four-sided fence reduces child drownings by 83 percent compared to three-sided property line fencing. Use self-closing and self-latching gates so they can’t accidentally be left open.
Pool covers: A pool safety cover keeps people from hopping in and protects the pool from leaves, dirt, and other debris. Make sure it covers the whole pool and fits securely to prevent kids from falling and slipping under it.
Pool safety nets: These are sometimes easier to place than pool covers. They won’t protect the pool from debris but can deter people from using the pool. However, kids and pets could get tangled in the net, so you should still pay attention to the pool if you use one.
Anti-entrapment drain covers: These are required to be installed on public pool drains, but you should make sure they’re securely in place in your own home pool or spa too. Children can easily get stuck in a drain or suction opening if the drain cover is loose, broken, or missing, and they can drown before you realize what’s happening. This happened to Virginia Graeme Baker, a child who drowned due to suction entrapment from a faulty drain cover. In Virginia’s memory, the Pool & Spa Safety Act was passed to mandate covers on the drains in public pools. The law also founded the Pool Safely campaign.
Above-ground pools also need good guard rails around the pool deck. They should swing up or be removable to prevent young children from entering the pool while unsupervised.
Aside from safety devices, simply paying attention is another way for caregivers to keep kids and pets safe around pools. The most important safety step is to simply designate a water watcher any time kids are in the pool. Adult supervision is crucial to making sure kids are playing safely in the water. The water watcher shouldn’t be reading, texting, or using their phone—they should be within arm’s reach of the kids. Enforce pool safety rules that emphasize playing safely.
You should also make sure kids who can’t swim are equipped with flotation devices, such as life jackets or inflatable floaties that fit around their arms, though no child should ever be left without supervision, with or without safety devices in use.. Swim lessons teach lifesaving skills, like how to stay afloat, so if they’re available from your local YMCA or parks department, sign your kids up for swimming lessons.