Continue to enjoy your pool while the weather is warm, but don’t let your guard down when it comes to pool safety. Maybe you planned to but didn’t complete a safety inspection of your pool before diving in this year. But it is not too late. An accident can happen at any time. So if you haven’t already done an annual safety check, don’t delay another day. Even if you did at the start of the season, another run through can only help ensure that family and friends can continue to enjoy your pool.
All pool and pool area components should be inspected for trip hazards, rough surfaces, slippery surfaces, sharp edges, rotted wood decking, rusted ladders and stairs, and damaged diving boards.
All electric components, pumps, motors, and filtration equipment should be checked and serviced. There should be no wiring (including extension cords) or receptacles anywhere near the pool and receptacle outlets supplying electricity to the pool areas and equipment should be protected with a special safety device called a Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter. If you have never had an electrician check the electrical components for and around the pool, it would be wise to do so now.
A qualified individual should also confirm that the intake covers (grates) on the filtration returns are fitted with the proper type grate to prevent entrapment hazards.
Consider Accessibility Issues
To reduce the risk of drowning, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends using as many layers of protection as possible. Of primary importance are self-closing, self-latching gates and suitable fencing that completely surrounds the pool to prevent unsupervised access by young children. If the house forms a barrier for part of the pool area enclosure, install alarms on doors leading to the pool area or use special water alarms. A safety cover over the pool is also something to consider.
Proper supervision is still the most important safety practice when it comes to pool safety for children. Drowning can occur in minutes. Many drowning incidents occur when young children are not expected to be near the pool area. And even when parents or childcare providers are around, don’t be misled into thinking that if a child falls in the water, you will always hear them splashing and screaming and will be able to come to the rescue in time. Many times, young children slip under the water silently.
Danger Comes in All Sizes
Accidents can happen in any pool. According to the CPSC, drowning incidents involving portable or inflatable pools are rising. Many of these pools are often purchased by consumers without consideration for the critical safety features necessary to help protect young children from danger. Because of their short-term temporary installation, they often fall outside the scrutiny of local building officials when it comes to safety features like fencing or barriers.
Hot tubs and spas also present potential safety concerns. Whether built-in or freestanding, hot tubs and spas present many of the same accident and drowning hazards as pools. With hot tubs, there is an added concern for over-exposure to elevated water temperature. Generally, a maximum water temperature of 104° F (40° C) is recommended for any long-term bathing. And due to the heated water, the control of bacteria is a health concern.
The potential for hair entrapment from the suction at the return for the water jets is an even greater issue with hot tubs and spas than pools, particularly, with older or damaged units that do not have the proper grates over the return opening. Review all manufacturer recommendations and warnings regarding hot tub and spa operation.
It is important to always be prepared for an emergency by having rescue equipment and a phone near the pool. Also, all parents and childcare providers should learn basic pool safety, first aid, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) practices.
Note: These tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue.