The Complete Swimming Pool Safety Guide
There’s no better place to cool off and enjoy some family fun than splashing around in the swimming pool. In fact, many people note that swimming is their favorite summer activity. However, as most parents and responsible pool owners know, swimming isn’t without some risks. Most pool safety is common sense, but it never hurts to discuss it and learn more. We want you and your family to be safe and have tons of fun in the pool, so we decided to address some common pool safety concerns upfront. We’ve put together this swimming pool safety guide, which covers everything from drownings to pool chemicals. Keep reading for some of our best pool safety tips.
Drowning is always a concern when spending time near water, whether it be bathtubs, lakes, or swimming pools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there were about 3,500 fatal non-boating related drownings annually in the United States between 2005-2014. The main factors that increase drowning risk include lack of swimming ability, alcohol use, and a lack of close supervision. The last thing we want is a tragic accident in your swimming pool. Here are a few safety tips to help minimize the risk of drowning.
- Never swim alone. Adults should never leave a child unattended in or near the water — even if they’re just playing in your backyard. In general, everyone (including adults) should use the “buddy system” when they’re in the pool.
- Consider signing your kids up for swimming lessons. They’ll learn different strokes, breathing techniques, and even some rescue techniques from trained professionals.
- If supervising a pool party, make sure there is a good ratio of adults to children so that nothing goes unnoticed.
- Get trained. Many organizations, such as the Red Cross, offer CPR and lifeguard training. Consider having at least one adult in your family go through these courses and learn the basics in case of an emergency.
- Consume alcohol responsibly around the pool. Alcohol can impair your judgment, slow your reflexes, and impact response time — all of which can be dangerous if you’re swimming or supervising others in the water.
- Cover your pool with a pool cover when it’s not in use.
- Consider investing in a safety fence or privacy around your pool to prevent children, elderly, and animals from entering the pool area unsupervised.
- Consider installing a pool alarm or an alarm on the door that leads outside toward the pool area to help alert you if someone gets in the water unsupervised.
- Remove pool stairs and ladders when the pool isn’t in use to keep people and pets from entering it.
- Be sure to remove and store swimming pool toys, floats, and accessories when the pool isn’t in use. Small children and pets may fall in while reaching for them or enter the water unsupervised to retrieve them.
- Have a cell phone close by in case of an emergency. That way, you’ll be able to call for help faster.
- Have emergency equipment — such as life ring with rope or a shepherd’s hook — handy to aid in rescue efforts.
- Consider using a life jacket if you’re not a strong swimmer. While floaties and foam toys can help, they are not actual safety devices.
- Learn the signs of drowning or distress so you’ll be more aware when around the pool. Drowning is not always frantic splashing and yelling. In fact, they may be silent with their head tilted back, bobbing up and down, or treading water.
Slips, Falls, and Other Swimming Pool Injuries
While drowning is a big concern, so are falls, scrapes, and other injuries in and around the pool. The water makes the area surrounding the pool slippery, and people (especially kids) don’t always pay close attention when they’re splashing and having a good time in the water. Here are a few tips to prevent injury around your swimming pool.
- Have a “No Running” rule. This will encourage people to slow down and prevent slipping when the area around your pool is wet. Consider posting a sign that helps serve as a reminder.
- Keep the pool area free of tripping hazards like towels, sandals, and pool toys. Consider a designated area to keep these obstacles out of the main pathways during swimming and make sure they’re cleaned up at the end of the day.
- Never dive in shallow water. You could hit you easily hit your head or damage your neck or spine.
- Limit the number of people allowed in the pool at once. Injuries are more likely to occur when the pool is overcrowded, especially if people are jumping in or playing pool games.
- Keep the use of glass and other breakables around the pool to a minimum. Many people walk around barefoot and broken glass can be difficult to see.
- Minimize roughhousing. You want everyone to have fun in the water, but you don’t want things to get out of control. Slippery pool decks and patios are a dangerous place for pushing and wrestling. Too much roughhousing can cause accidental damage to your swimming pool liner as well.
- Have a first aid kit handy. You’ll want to be sure it’s well-stocked with water-resistant bandages, ice packs, and antibacterial ointments.
- Consider installing handrails and grab bars in strategic areas around the pool and patio area.
- Frequently inspect the pool area and yard for potential hazards, such as exposed nails, screws, or wires. Pay close attention to pool slides and diving boards as well.
- Exercise caution around grills and firepits to prevent accidental burns. Keep these hot areas far away from the main pathways and play areas and be sure they’re covered when not in use.
- Consider sandals or water shoes around the patio area. Footwear can help protect feet from sticks, broken glass, and other hazards. Shoes can also serve as a buffer when the concrete or other deck/patio materials get too hot during the summer months.
Sun & Heat Protection
There’s nothing like a warm summer day relaxing by the pool. Benefits of moderate sun exposure include improving your mood, boosting Vitamin D levels, and more. However, the heat and sun can take its toll, especially when you’re spending an extended time outdoors. Without monitoring and proper protection, sunburn, dehydration, and heat exhaustion can become serious issues. Here’s how you can keep you and your loved ones safe from the sun’s rays.
- Use a waterproof sunscreen (and reapply frequently). Consider applying it before you put on your swimming suit to avoid missing spots. Even when it’s somewhat cloudy or early/late in the day, it’s important to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays. The American Cancer Society recommends a sunscreen that’s labeled “broad-spectrum” so it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. They also recommend an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Hats and sunglasses are a great way to protect your eyes from sun damage when around the pool.
- Cover up when you’re not in the water. A simple swimsuit cover or wrapping your towel around your shoulders can help cover more of your skin without making you overly warm on sunny, hot days.
- Seek out shady areas — especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest. Pool screens, pergolas, gazebos, and strategically-placed trees and shrubs can make for great permanent shade in your backyard. Umbrellas and tarps can work for a more temporary fix.
- Drink plenty of water when spending time around the pool. Alcohol can actually contribute to dehydration, so consume in moderation.
- Know the signs of dehydration. These include less frequent urination, dizziness, fatigue, and more.
- Know the signs of heatstroke. These include high body temperatures, headaches, nausea, and more.
- Take frequent breaks to drink water, rest, and cool off inside.
Did you know you can also harness the power of the sun for your pool? Solar pool products — including solar panels and solar pool covers — are a great way to lower your pool heating costs and extend your outdoor swimming pool season.
Pool Chemicals, Hygiene, and Sanitation
No one wants to swim in a dirty pool. Not only does it look gross, but it can also be unsafe. However, too many chemicals in your pool and not handling the chemicals properly can also be problematic. Let’s look at a few tips when it comes to pool chemicals, storing your pool chemicals, and proper swimming pool hygiene and sanitation.
- Check your water chemistry daily, especially if you’re using your pool frequently. Your pH levels should be between 7.2 and 7.6, alkalinity should stay between 80 and 120 ppm, and chlorine levels should be between 1.5 and 2.5 ppm.
- Check all chemical expiration dates at the beginning/end of a swimming season.
- Store chemicals in a well-ventilated, dry place out of reach of children and pets. Label chemicals and store them separately to avoid accidental contamination.
- Exercise caution when working with pool chemicals. Keep people and pets out of the pool and avoid contact with eyes and skin until the chemicals are properly diluted in water.
- Read all labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) before using your pool chemicals.
- Use safety equipment — including gloves, goggles, and a mask — as appropriate when handling chemicals.
- Never mix chemicals unless specifically directed. It could cause a chemical reaction and the results could be dangerous.
- Follow proper instructions when disposing of unwanted pool chemicals. If need be, contact the manufacturer for disposal information.
- Always rinse off before entering the pool and when you’re done swimming. This helps keep debris and bacteria on your skin from entering the pool, and it also helps remove chlorine and other chemicals from your hair and skin afterward.
- Goggles can be a great way to protect your eyes from chlorine and other chemicals while swimming.
- Groom and wash your dogs before allowing them in the pool. They tend to carry fecal matter and bacteria on their fur and long, sharp nails may damage your pool liner.
- Avoid swallowing pool water. While minimal amounts likely won’t hurt you, too much can cause an upset stomach.
- Clean all pool toys, floats, and accessories to keep them clean and sanitary all summer long.
- Make kids take frequent bathroom breaks. Make sure infants and toddlers wear proper swim diapers. Youngsters are often culprits for peeing or pooping in the pool.
- Avoid going in the pool if you have a rash, open wound, diarrhea, runny nose, or other ailments.
- Clean your pool regularly. Vacuuming your pool should be done at least once a week, or more if you’re using the pool frequently. You’ll want to clean out leaves, twigs, and other debris on a daily basis, as these can impact your water chemistry.
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Have fun in your pool!
We care about our customers, so we hope you and your family continue to make swimming pool safety a priority. With a little extra vigilance and preparation, you and your family can avoid incidents and have a much more exciting summer around the pool.
Keep these tips in mind and share them with your family and friends. If you have some safety tips to add to our list, we’d love to hear them. Leave a comment below or connect with us on Facebook!
My wife and I were thinking it would be a good idea to purchase an above ground swimming pool so that our kids can have a place to cool down when the days get really hot. I’m glad you mentioned that it is important to stay hydrated when you are spending time in a pool. I’ll make sure my kids have a water bottle with them when they are out swimming.
Thanks, Thomas! Stay hydrated, have fun, and enjoy the summer.