Keeping Safety First with Children, Pets, and Pools! DO’s and DON’Ts
Here’s a sobering statistic: Nearly 400 children under the age of 15 drown in pools and spas every year — about one every day. Of those, 300 are under the age of 5. And 87 percent of those fatalities occur at residential pools and spas. (Consumer Product Safety Commission)
As the number one pool builder for the communities we serve, our job exceeds our talent for creating beautiful backyard retreats. Guilford Pool’s main concern is keeping the lives of young children safe and ensuring that pool safety education is readily available to the public. That is why we have spent a lot of time developing this lengthy and all-inclusive Pool Safety 101 Guide.
This guide will cover:
- Swimming Lessons and the Importance of Teaching Kids to Swim at a Young Age
- Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) and Floaties for Children Including Their False Sense of Security
- Lifeguards and Designated Pool Watchers
- Visual Separation of the Deep and Shallow End
- Implementation of Barriers and Other Safety Measures, such as Fencing and Automatic Locking Gates
- Pool and Door Alarms
- Pros and Cons of:
- Fence/Wall Mounted Pool Alarms
- Pool Mounted Infrared Detectors
- Underwater Motion Alarms
- Floating Motion Sensors
- Pool Covers
- Pool Nets
- Safe Pool Area Upkeep
- Regular Pool Inspections
- Importance of CPR Training
- Other Pool Safety Rules & Guidelines
Swimming Lessons - Teach Kids to Swim
Swimming is a great recreational exercise for people of all ages. You can put up all the safety measures in the world, but the best investment in pool safety is in proper swimming lessons for anyone enjoying your pool, especially kids. Swimming lessons empower kids to learn to save themselves and others in case of an emergency. In the service area of Guilford Pools, we highly recommend swim lessons at Infant Swim Triad. Their classes are designed for all ages and abilities, starting at 6 months of age.
Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) and Children’s Floaties
Floaties and PFDs (personal floatation devices) are great gear for swimmers in training! Guilford Pools doesn’t recommend drinking while swimming because it can increase the likelihood of an accident. That being said, we realize that adults spend hard-earned money on their swimming pools and will enjoy them how they please. We recommend that if adults 21+ are going to be drinking that they always wear a PFD during their swim.
Inflatable pool floats are great for children but can lead to a false sense of security. Recently there was a viral video making the rounds on social media. The video depicted a 3-year-old swimming in a pool at an Atlanta apartment complex. The adult watching over the swimming children was unfortunately distracted by her phone. The child jumped into the pool with a circular pool float around her waist and flipped upside down upon landing in the water. Unable to flip herself over, her head was submerged under the water for two minutes. Thankfully the girl’s 10-year-old sister came to the rescue and rescued her little sister from this scary situation.
The whole ordeal is the perfect reminder for parents that just because a child is wearing or on an inflatable pool float does not mean that they are safe and must always be watched carefully.
Lifeguards and Designated Pool Watchers
The most important safety precaution that a pool owner can take is to always be alert of children swimming in the pool. While watching children in the pool their lives are in your hands, so make sure the cell phone isn’t. Unlike the movies, a drowning kid usually doesn’t splash around and call for help. It is crucial that a lifeguard or designated pool watcher is always paying attention.
Visual Separation of the Deep and Shallow End
This is an important rule because kids will not assume boundaries. Connect a rope with floats across your pool where the water goes above 3-4 ft. Having a visual representation of the deep end of your swimming pool will let young children know where it is safe for them to swim and be able to touch the bottom. It can also help someone if they get a cramp in the middle of your pool. The rope acts as another ground of safety for the cramping swimmer.
Implement Barriers and Other Safety Measures
Even if you don’t have kids of your own, it’s still recommended that you create barriers of entry to your pool. We all know that neighborhood kids will do crazy things for a good time during the summer doldrums. Below are some of the most common ways that property owners can childproof their swimming pools.
Fencing and Automatic Locking Gates
A standard pool cover might not fit your custom pool. Therefore, fencing is a great option for keeping pets and children from harm at an unsupervised pool.
Pro Tip: Make sure that you don’t have furniture or ladders easily available around your fence. This will help prevent kids from jumping the fence.
A self-closing, self-latching gate assures that the gate won’t be accidentally left open. A lockable gate is great because it provides extra security. One consideration is purchasing a see-through fence, such as chain-link, wrought iron, or glass. Also, make sure that they don’t have any footholds or niches that kids can use to climb over.
Pool fences are often regulated, sometimes stringently, by building codes or homeowners’ associations. Typically, the fence must be 5 to 6 feet high, with slats or uprights spaced no wider than 4 inches. Fencing must also stand far enough from the pool’s edge to allow safe passage — at least 3 feet. Check with your local building department or HOA for other requirements or restrictions.
Pool and Door Alarms
If you’re not by the pool, you probably won’t want anyone playing in the water. To keep your mind at ease, you can choose from pool gate alarms or water alarms that will let you know immediately if someone is near or in your pool. There are a few different types of pool alarms on the market, so check out the different models below.
Fence/Wall Mounted Pool Alarms
These swimming pool alarms are designed to run atop the perimeter of the wall or fence surrounding your pool. They use either infrared beams to detect movement or magnetic connections that set off an alarm when broken. Either way, you’ll know if someone is around your pool.
If you have agile kids or sneaky neighborhood children, they might be able to evade this type of alarm by jumping the fence. This is why we suggest a combination of alarms.
Pool Mounted Infrared Detectors
These infrared systems are installed poolside and sound a high-decibel alarm when breached. They’re usually more expensive but will tell you when someone is actually in the water.
Most of these alarms have a minimum weight sensor of 15 pounds. This helps prevent false alarms from being triggered by sticks and leaves. Something to consider is that since these alarms hang on the side of the pool, the response time for an alarm must be quick. The best measure is to use various types of alarms.
Underwater Motion Alarms
These pool security systems use a sonar grid beneath the water’s surface to detect a breach and then sound an alarm.
These systems use sonar which eliminates the chances of false alarms due to wind-generated movement of the water. However, they are sensitive enough to detect even the smallest body (around 15 pounds). These systems are completely automated and re-arm themselves automatically.
The downside to this is that these alarms are always armed. If you plan on swimming you will have to physically take the alarm out of the pool and switch it to sleep mode.
Floating Motion Sensors
A relatively inexpensive security measure is floating motion sensors. These alarms use electronic signals to measure calm water and detect when water is displaced, or waves are created by objects of a certain weight. These alarms are great for inground and above-ground pools.
Con’s: Strong winds have been known to set these alarms off.
Durable, high-quality pool covers are a pool owner’s best friend for multiple reasons. By covering the pool when it’s not in use you can cut down on cleaning from flying debris like sticks and leaves.
There are soft and hardcover options, but all pool coverings should be strong enough to support the weight of an adult and must be ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) approved.
A well-locked and secured pool cover will make it virtually impossible for kids to get in your pool without being aware. Furthermore, if it is wintertime and your children are playing around the pool you don’t have to worry about someone slipping and falling into the pool. Pool covers can be expensive but with proper use and care they will last a long time and very likely could save a life.
As mentioned before, pool covers can be expensive. This is why some homeowners choose to use pool nets instead. Pools nets are a great lightweight solution that is strong enough to keep small animals and children out of the water.
Cons: These do not help keep unwanted trash, limbs, leaves, and other debris out of your pool. Also, these can become a hazard if a young child falls into the net and becomes entangled.
Safe Pool Area Upkeep
Safety extends to more than just keeping kids out of the pool. It is equally important to keep all areas surrounding the pool safe and up to date. If your pool deck is damaged or has wood splintering up, promptly have it repaired. If it is slippery, you can coat the surface with nonslip materials. Nothing is worse than carrying a hot plate of food, just so you can slip and wear it, or worse end up in the pool with it. If you are not using the pool, make sure to secure all ladders and steps that lead to the pool.
Use only non-breakable plates and glasses poolside, never glass. This is big for adults that are drinking in the pool. Keep all unused toys—particularly balls—away from the area too.
Protect all electrical outlets and equipment, as well as circuits for support equipment, with ground fault circuit interrupters. Test your GFCls monthly. Inspect electrical equipment frequently, and do not use the pool until any needed repairs are made. Do not allow electrical appliances inside the fenced pool area.
Get Your Pool Inspected Regularly
This is the part that most pool owners neglect. You should have your pool inspected every year (by a licensed pool inspector) before you open it up for swimming. According to the CPSC, there have been over 60 electrocutions (shocked to death) and nearly 50 serious shocks since 1990. Some have occurred during attempted rescues because the rescuer didn’t know about the electrical hazards. Wet surfaces such as grass or pool decks can even conduct electricity if there is something wrong with your wiring.
Pool equipment (pumps, filters, vacuums), lights, power or extension cords, overhead powerlines, electrical outlets, radios, stereos, and TVs are all sources of electricity around pools and spas, which should be responsibly considered.
No pool owner wants to imagine that they might be faced with a life-threatening situation when buying a pool. But in this industry, we believe in precautions and having a strong backup plan. CPR classes do not cost that much and are usually readily available in your community. CPR training will give you the skills that you need to deal with an unresponsive child or adult. These are vital skills that you can carry with you throughout your life in all situations.
Suggested Pool Safety Rules
- No tricycles or other riding toys at the poolside.
- No electrical appliances near the pool.
- No diving in a pool that is not deep enough.
- Non-swimmers must be accompanied in the water by an adult who can swim—one adult to each non-swimming child.
- Children may not enter the pool area without an adult who can swim.
- No one may ever swim alone.
- No running, pushing, or rough play is allowed in or near the pool. No swimming is allowed during a thunderstorm because water attracts lightning.
- Night swimming is not recommended unless children are closely supervised by adult swimmers in a well-lit pool.
Guilford Pools has taken all its years of experience and resources available on the internet to provide you with this complete comprehensive swimming pool safety guide. If you follow the advice in this article you are almost certain to prevent any pool accident. We look forward to building your dream backyard retreat and creating the best summertime family memories that money can buy.