Summer Water Hazards: Swimming Pools
With summer rapidly approaching, homeowners need to take special caution in maintaining yards and outdoor areas. Pools, ponds, and sprinklers create particular hazards, especially when the weather grows warmer and children go outside to play.
Swimming pools present a serious danger of drowning and other injuries at all times of year, but particularly when rising temperatures make pools particularly attractive to children and animals (as well as adults). Nothing can make a swimming pool completely “safe” – but homeowners can and should take steps to improve pool safety and decrease the likelihood of pool-related injuries or deaths.
AVOID THESE COMMON SWIMMING POOL DANGERS
Ensure that all swimming pools are properly gated and secured to prevent children and pets from accidentally entering the pool area unobserved. Use locks, alarms, and bells on gates and other entrances to pool areas.
Never allow children of any age to swim alone. Adults, too, should swim with a “buddy” or let someone know before using the pool. Even competent swimmers may suffer a cramp, accidental head injury, or other debilitating condition and drown when swimming alone.
Sweep and inspect pool decking regularly, and before the pool is used to remove slipping hazards and sharp or dangerous objects. Many homeowners neglect or forget to inspect the pool and surrounding areas before swimmers enter the area. Thorns, sticks, and other sharp objects may fall from trees or blow into the pool area on windy days. Never assume the area is clear: inspect every time before the pool is used!
Never allow glass objects into the pool area. Glass becomes almost invisible in water. Broken glass in a swimming pool creates a serious hazard of injury or death, and is difficult to remove from the pool completely. If you or your guests wish to take food or drinks near the pool, make sure to use paper or shatter-resistant plastic plates, cups and containers.
Create and enforce safety rules, even for private pools. Make sure your family members and guests know and follow the safety rules. For example: No jumping or diving in shallow water; No running in the pool area; No dangerous horseplay (e.g., wrestling) in the pool; No swimming alone. This is not a complete or exhaustive list – make sure your rules cover all the relevant areas to keep your pool and its users safe.
Make sure all guests can swim, and understand pool safety.
Designate a competent “lifeguard” during parties and group swimming events. This is particularly important when multiple children will be swimming simultaneously. Adults may become involved in conversations and fail to notice a child in distress or drowning. Appoint at least one competent, trustworthy adult to act as the “lifeguard” and keep a sharp eye on people in the pool. More than one “lifeguard” is even better for larger groups – use good judgment, based on the number of swimmers and their competence in the water.
Nothing can make a swimming pool absolutely safe, but following these and other safety rules can decrease the chances of injuries or fatalities during the summer swimming season.
Disclaimer: this article is and overview only and is not intended to provide a comprehensive guide to swimming pool safety. Do not rely exclusively on this or any other article to determine how to make your home or swimming pool safe for guests. Each homeowner is responsible to investigate, discover, and remediate dangerous conditions on the homeowner’s property. You may wish to consult a safety expert for help and advice.