Is there a better way to cool off in the summer than to jump into your own swimming pool? Backyard pools and hot tubs are the stuff of dreams for many families, but with such a luxury comes a great responsibility. The American Red Cross estimates that more than over 200 young children drown in backyard swimming pools each year – a terrifying statistic for any parent. Consider the following tips to keep your pool safe for everyone.
I. Secure your pool when not in use. It’s a great idea—and, in many states, required under law—to completely surround your pool with a fence or barrier that stands at least four feet tall and has a self-closing gate. In the colder months, cover your pool or hot tub with a safety cover made from either mesh (good for moderate year-round temperatures) or tarp (good for colder climates). This will help prohibit neighborhood daredevils from taking a quick dip.
II. Watch children at all times. Always try to stay within arm’s reach of young kids, and consider keeping your very young or inexperienced swimmers in a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, both in and out of the water. During gatherings like barbeques and birthday parties, you might want to designate a responsible adult to exclusively keep an eye on swimmers. And no child should ever be allowed to swim alone.
III. Copy the public pool’s rules of safety. There’s a good reason why all public swimming pools enforce the same rules, like “No diving,” “Always swim with a buddy” and “No running.” It’s because these rules save lives. While hiring a lifeguard might be overdoing it, you may want to think about enforcing similar rules at your own pool, maybe even invest in a sign that covers these issues, so that all visitors are in the know.
IV. No landlubbers. While it might sound obvious, having a pool in the backyard does not mean the whole family suddenly knows how to swim. Ensure everyone in the home knows how to swim, and swim well, by enrolling them in water orientation or swimming lessons. It’s also a good idea to make sure everyone in the family knows how to respond to pool emergencies by having the correct safety equipment always on hand and taking lifesaving, first aid, and CPR courses from the Red Cross.
V. Consider a high-tech security system. If you’re looking to remove the element of human error from your pool security, investing in a high-tech security device might be the way to go. Infrared motion sensors—either the pool-mounted or fence-mounted kind—typically blanket your backyard pool area with infrared beams, emitting a high-decibel alarm when breached. They’re also smart enough to discern an inanimate object, like a tree branch or lawn chair, from a person or pet. Underwater motion alarms are also a smart buy. Emitting a sonar grid beneath the surface of the water, these automated systems go off with the detection of even the smallest body.
VI. Keep a digital eye on your child at all times with a wearable sensor which will alert your smartphone or tablet in the event a swimmer has been submerged beyond preset limits, or if a non-swimmer enters the water. It works in pools, lakes, rivers, spas, and at the beach.
VII. Keep your pool and hot tub clean. Maintain proper chemical levels, circulation and filtration. Regular tests of your backyard pool’s chemical levels lower the risk of earaches, rashes, or more serious diseases among swimmers of all ages. As for hot tubs, they need to be tested even more than swimming pools since their high water temperatures cause the chlorine to evaporate at a faster rate.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, you can cannon ball to your heart’s content!