If you have a pool, you know the importance of regular pool service and maintenance. Do you also know how to prevent common pool accidents from occurring? Nothing can derail your plans and spoil a summer like an accident or injury caused during a swim.
Swimming pool accidents are preventable; use these tips to maintain a safer pool and property:
Most cities and towns have laws in place mandating pool fencing, though it may vary in specifications. Typically, the fence needs to be around four-to-five feet high, tall enough to keep kids and animals out. Per legal experts, nearly 400 children in this country drown in swimming pools or hot tubs annually. This same report indicates that drowning is the number-one reason for accidental death in children ages one to four. If someone gets hurt in your pool, with or without permission to be there, you, as the homeowner, are liable. Prevent access and curb trespassing with a good, sturdy pool fence. This will reduce the risk of children or wildlife getting in or near the water.
Supervision – Pool Watchers
One of the most important tips for pool safety is this: never allow unsupervised swimming. Children or adults alike should never be permitted to swim alone, and don’t assume your child is safe in a group of other children. There should always be an adult present, ideally one who is focused on the pool and swimmers, who knows how to swim themselves and knows CPR. As long as your pool is filled with water, the risk of drowning is very real. Provide floats and flotation devices for children or inexperienced swimmers. Always watch and supervise whenever anyone swims in your pool- after all, you are responsible for them. Just as you would not take your eyes off the road in a car, do not take your eyes off the pool when people swim; it is just as risky. Teach other adults not to interfere or distract the Pool Watcher. Use a “pool watcher” badge and make the wearer read the pledge aloud to bring home the safety message. See a Pool Watcher Badge here.
Adults and kids alike benefit from swimming with a buddy. Do not swim by yourself; it increases the risk of drowning multi-fold. Furthermore, if your child is going to swim, make sure they are supervised by an individual that has been certified in CPR, like a parent or lifeguard.
Sure, the idea of drinks by the pool sounds nice but never swim while intoxicated. Swimming and alcohol do not mix and greatly increase the odds of an accidental drowning. Using tubs, pools, or spas when under the influence of any intoxicant can be a recipe for disaster that has catastrophic consequences.
Diving is dangerous. Most diving injuries occur from individuals diving from the side of the pool, rather than from an actual diving board. This is not to say that diving of any kind in a home swimming pool is safe; the water is simply not deep enough to be considered safe. Homeowners would do best to disallow diving altogether from their pools and many public pools do prohibit this entirely. Injuries are usually related to the diver jumping in water that is far too shallow, causing devastating injuries.
The primary injuries when diving relate to head and brain trauma, or back and spinal cord injury. Clearly marking the depths of the water can help, but a better approach is to prevent and avoid diving of any kind in your swimming pool. It is truly the safest route to prevent accidents. Speak with all new users of your pool and make sure they understand “feet first” entry is the only way to enter the pool.
Pools and the surrounding decks are typically slick, wet spots. Use care to prevent a fall and injury in these conditions. Furthermore, a fall into the pool could result in accidental drowning, particularly among children who may not be wearing floatation devices at the time of the incident. Texturizing the surface of your pool deck is a good start, like using a paint with grit to provide traction, but also think of simple steps to clear clutter which could be a fall risk. Reduce the obstacles around the pool that could cause some sort of accidental injury.
Reinforce the importance of walking, not running, near and around the pool. When children are involved, running on a pool deck is the perfect way to get hurt. The result of running? Sprains, fractures, and bruises are just a few, but don’t forget that you could also experience a nasty bump on the head. Pool decks are typically tiled or paved surfaces that are not very forgiving; play it safe and slow down. Encourage others to do the same.
Make sure that you implement and install proper handrails and ladders to be used when getting in and out of the water. This can be a particularly vulnerable time that causes a nasty fall and subsequent injury. Handrails provide stability when you are transitioning from the water to the potentially slippery pool deck.
Chemicals are used to keep the water in your swimming pool safe and clean to swim. How odd that these same chemicals could also cause potential accidental injury when not used properly. The chemicals used in treating the water and reducing bacteria can be very dangerous outside the water and are unsafe around children and pets. Make sure pool chemicals are stored transported and used by adults using proper PPE and are never mixed or left where children and pets can get to them.
Encourage swimmers to rinse off before and after a swim, which will also help keep the pool water cleaner for all. If you notice redness or a rash after swimming, test your water’s Chlorine and pH and treat as needed. Better yet, contact a pool professional for chemical treatment in the area. This also ensures that things like bacteria, algae, and micro-organisms are removed from the water, curbing the risk of contracting or transmitting disease.
Additionally, long exposure to pool water can also make your eyes sore and red. This is because even properly balanced pool water is not the same as the saline mixture of our eye’s moisture and if the pool water replaces all the eyes moisture your eyes get irritated. Wearing goggles makes the most sense, but you may also find relief with over-the-counter eye drops designed for such exposure. Make sure that you always test or have the water tested to make sure the chemicals are not off when experiencing these issues.
Drains can be dangerous and cause drowning, especially but not exclusively for children. The suction can pull an adult underwater, but also can pull in clothing and hair causing entrapment and drowning hazard. Have the pool’s drain inspected routinely by an area pool professional. Keep the drain covered as recommended by the manufacturer and steer clear of it. Instruct children to stay away from it, as well.
Speaking of inspections, it is imperative to have your pool inspected each year, generally just before the season when the swimming pool will get the most use. Keep an eye on your pool equipment each time the pool is professionally cleaned or chemically treated; this will help identify any potential hazards or risks before they can result in an accident or injury.
Make warnings and pool rules clear by posting them and communicating them to each user of your home pool. Residential pools do not require depth markings so make sure users are aware of your pool’s depth so that swimmers know how deep the water is before entering. This can prevent children from wandering too far in the deep end as well as warn divers when the water is too shallow for safety. If your pool does not have a designated diving well- which most backyard pools do not make “Feet First” the only way to enter the pool. Post your own pool rules for all to see and abide by.
If you have a pool in Arizona, Florida, or Texas, reach out to the professionals at Pool Troopers. We offer pool cleaning, servicing, maintenance, and repairs for pool owners. Most pool accidents, injuries, and deaths are preventable; use these tips to ensure your pool is as safe as it can possibly be.