7 Pool Safety Tips (Hint: A Fence is Key!)
Swimming pools can be a siren call for most of us—but that’s especially true for young children. And for parents, even those who think they’ve followed all the right pool safety tips, that’s the scariest part.
The statistics on poolside accidents and drownings are pretty grim. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 300 children under 5 drown each year in swimming pools, and usually in a family-owned pool. That’s in addition to the 2,000 children who end up in emergency rooms following submersion injuries.
The greatest risk of drowning, of course, is with young children—but adults and teens can drown too. No matter the age of those using your pool, it’s important to revisit your pool safety strategy on a regular basis. Here are some water safety tips to help you have a good (and safe) time in your pool.
1. Pool Fences
You may have guessed this from our title, but creating barriers around your pool is the number one thing you can do to prevent a serious incident. If you have children, you already know they’re great at getting into things they shouldn’t. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have sturdy fences to keep your children from accessing the pool when no one is around to watch them.
Pool fencing is an ideal safety precaution both for portable above-ground pools as well as in-ground pools and hot tubs. You’ll have a variety of pool fence types to choose from, but in general, you should make sure your fence covers a few crucial bases:
- Climb-proof: Your fence has no footholds, and there are no nearby objects someone might use to climb over it.
- Height: We recommend a fence of at least four feet.
- True barrier: There’s no way through the fence but the gate, as the slats are small enough to prevent very small children from getting through.
- Lock: The lock or latch is high enough that small children can’t reach it.
Of course, once you’ve installed your fence, it’s also important to keep it well maintained, not to mention locked at all times.
Drownings are often completely silent. A pool alarm is designed to break that silence for you. These tools aren’t hard to get your hands-on, and they’re great for peace of mind. They’ll detect any unusual wave patterns on the surface of the water, ringing an alarm so you know there’s been a disturbance in the pool.
While you’re at it, you may also want to set up an alarm on your pool fence gate as well, and on any doors leading to the pool area. All doors leading to the pool should close automatically behind you, and they should lock or latch automatically as well. This ensures that you’ll always be alerted whenever anyone enters the area without disabling the alarm.
3. Pool Cover
Pool safety covers are another layer of protection to add to your strategy. They come in both mesh and solid varieties, and they’re easy to install. However, it’s important to ensure that your pool cover is well maintained, and it’s particularly important never to let water collect on it. (Small children can drown in less than two inches of water.)
In addition, if the pool cover comes with an automatic opener, be sure to store it somewhere your children can’t reach.
Research has shown that drowning doesn’t always look like you’d expect. This is why it’s critical to have someone watching the people in your pool.
Having a watcher is essential both if you have children swimming in the water, and if there are any adults who can’t swim well and can’t touch the bottom of the pool at every point. Obviously, we don’t mean for you to hire an actual lifeguard for your home pool, but you should designate a lifeguard to pay constant attention to anyone in the water or near the pool.
This role comes with a few rules, so be sure that your designated lifeguard knows and follows them:
- No cell phone use
- No drinking
- No distractions
- Stay near the side of the pool
- Be ready to jump in as needed!
The designated lifeguard should switch off between any adults present.
5. Life Jackets
Any small child (or even older swimmers) who can’t swim well should wear a life jacket at all times. This doesn’t mean smaller devices like inflatable arm floaties, doughnut floaties, or pool noodles. You should never rely on these things to know that someone who can’t swim well is “safe” in the water. Instead, use a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket designed to provide extra buoyancy where it’s needed most.
6. Swimming Lessons
Knowing how to swim can help reduce the risk of drowning in children older than one year old. Child-appropriate swim lessons typically aren’t hard to find, and if you own a pool they’re a great investment in your child’s long-term safety.
Make swim lessons a survival and healthcare priority, set them up as soon as you reasonably can for your kids. Note, of course, that knowing how to swim does not completely remove the risk of drowning in a pool. Even experienced swimmers can drown if the conditions are right, so it’s still important to take other precautions to prevent drowning and accidents.
7. Be Prepared
Despite all your best efforts, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to act immediately. To give yourself every possible advantage, here are a few things to do in advance:
- Know basic CPR: Parents and older children can sign up together, and this is a good first-aid skill to have in life.
- Have refreshers available: Laminate a paper with CPR instructions and keep it near the pool.
- Keep a first aid kit: For serious falls, keep a first-aid kid near the pool as well.
- Be aware of concerning symptoms: Following an incident where someone is submerged in the pool, watch for delayed symptoms of drowning.
Precautions like these can give you some extra peace of mind, knowing that you’ll be prepared on the off chance that an accident occurs.
Get Started on These Pool Safety Tips
As you decide how to put these pool safety tips into practice, don’t forget that the best way to reduce the risk of accidents and drownings is to use multiple strategies as layers of protection. Once you have them in place, you can breathe easier knowing that your warm, poolside summer days will be much safer. And remember, always refer to your local safety guidelines and building codes when dealing with swimming pools.