by Rob, June 03, 2008
Once you have your pool opened, taken care of your chemistry requirements, and got the equipment up and running, it's time for a Safety Scan. This is not one of those trademarked terms, just a phrase I use to describe looking at the entire pool area and adjoining areas, for possible, maybe probable, safety issues. There is a term that is trademarked, I think - called Layers of Protection. It would be helpful to the discussion of a Pool Safety Scan if I start by talking about the layers of protection surrounding a swimming pool.
Let me summarize this first by starting at the pool itself. A pool alarm can be a good final defense, or last layer of protection. At this point, you are protecting the actual water with a device that detects surface or sub-surface water disruption. Another layer of protection surrounding the body of water may be a safety cover or an automatic pool cover. If you have a mesh safety cover, consider using it during the week, or during vacations to keep the pool clean and safe. If you have an automatic pool cover, keep it closed also - for the same reasons. In fact, safety and auto pool covers are one of the strongest layers of protection around your pool.
Moving a bit further away from the actual water, other physical barriers, such as hedges, retaining walls, landscaping or outbuildings can serve as useful layers of protection. Be careful that such features around your pool don’t block two way vision, even while blocking physical access. Finally, fencing - the grand daddy of them all when it comes to protective layers around the pool. It should have just one gate, if possible. This gate is a powerful layer of protection. Other layers of protection around a pool could be cameras, safety turtle wristbands, vicious dogs, maybe?
A good Safety Scan of the pool would also include Trip and Fall hazards and Slip and Fall hazards. Try to imagine someone running through the area or navigating the area in the dark. Are there chairs, or low lying deck equipment that could cause someone to trip and fall? Standing water can be a slip hazard. Look for low areas in the deck that collect water or don't drain effectively.
Gates should be inspected regularly. A proper gate should be Self-Closing and Self-Latching. Make adjustments to the latching mechanisms or fence posts to make sure that gates close by themselves. A Magna-Tek style latch, on top of the fence post is quite secure. Additional gates - that may not be used regularly, should be padlocked to prevent access to the pool area.
Remember that Drowning is Silent! Should an accident occur, you likely will not hear someone splashing and screaming in the pool. (or if you did, you may think they were having fun!). There is no substitute for proper supervision of the pool and it's use. Keep your eyes peeled and enjoy the Summer!