Pool safety doesn’t stop when the summer ends and the cover goes on. In order to protect your family, neighbors and pets, a few steps have to be taken. Follow these five helpful tips to guarantee a safe and accident-free off-season.
1. Invest in a Safety Fence
Fencing is actually a legal requirement in several states, so this one is a classic no-brainer. Having a secure perimeter fence with a lockable gate is the most important step one can take to secure a pool area, on or off-season. Legally, a pool owner may be liable for any person or even pet that suffers injury due to a pool that isn’t adequately fenced in.
Besides offering safety, proper pool fencing also acts as a barrier to debris, keeping leaves and other windblown objects away from your pool and its cover. While chain-link is the most cost-effective option, investing in attractive wood or vinyl fencing will add to the pool area’s beauty while offering protection.
2. Get a Safety Cover
There are pool covers, and then there are pool covers. While an inexpensive tarp may hold off debris and rainwater through the off-season, it won’t do so effectively. It also won’t be very safe. Any adult, child or large animal that accidentally finds themselves on the cover will almost certainly dislodge a tarp, even if it’s weighed down at the edges. This leaves the potential victim of tragedy submerged in cold water with dozens of square feet of tarp – not a pleasant scenario.
A secure, durable pool cover stretched taught and secured by ring bolts is the ideal protection for an inground pool. For above ground pools, safety covers are available, but the most imperative step is to make sure that the stairs leading to the pool be secured with a locked gate. A pool can be a dangerous place, and never more so than when the temperature is low and help is indoors. For that reason, pools should be kept firmly and securely covered.
3. Gate Alarms Are a Good Idea
Assuming the pool is secured by a perimeter fence, the gate must be one that can’t easily be bypassed by the unsuspecting. A self-locking gate is the best place to start, but for the extra measure of safety we recommend adding a gate alarm. These small, inexpensive alarms are installed onto the gate and emit a shrill sound when someone opens it. This serves as a warning to whoever enters the pool area while alerting anyone within hearing that someone is passing through the gate.
Pool gate alarms are particularly important for children, who are the least likely to understand the dangers of a closed pool, and pets, who may have no concept whatsoever of the hazard. The offensive sound will instinctively drive both away from the pool area, and bring the attention of any nearby adults.
4. Remove Electrical Equipment
If your pool area is equipped with electrical equipment such as lights, radios, or even the filtration system, some safety steps must be taken. Remove all wiring from the pool area for the duration of the off-season. Cover all outlets. Take away any electrical equipment that is portable, and store it for the winter. Any electrical equipment or wiring has the potential to become a fire hazard, especially when left unattended for an entire season.
5. Proper Communication
As always, the most powerful defense against any safety hazard is knowledge. As a pool owner, it is your responsibility to communicate to your family and neighbors the potential dangers of a closed pool. Talk to your children and their friends about pool hazards in the same way you’d warn them about crossing the street or talking to strangers.
Make sure that your neighbors know how dangerous a closed pool area can be to their children or pets if wandered into. If using a gate alarm, make your neighbors aware of what the sound indicates. They may be the ones coming to the rescue in your absence.
By following these simple steps, you can rest assured that your pool, your family, and your neighbors are safe year-round, and look forward without anxiety to the start of the season.
If you want to learn more about pool safety and DIY pool care, be sure to visit Swim University and enjoy a plethora of how-to videos, articles and online tools to help you take care of your swimming pool, both on and off-season.
Matt-Giovanisci is the creator of Swim University, a website that teaches homeowners how to take care of their pools and hot tubs by providing simple how-to articles, entertaining videos, and online tools. Matt started working in the pool and spa industry when he was just 13 years old at a local pool supply store in town. He quickly became a manager at age 16, running the store entirely by himself. Since then he’s worked at a few different pool and spa companies before focusing his full attention on Swim University.
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