Summer is Here - Time to do a Pool Safety Scan
by Rob Cox, June 07, 2010
Now that you've got your swimming pool opened, water restored to a blue hue, pump and filter doing their job on schedule...it's time to take a look at pool safety. Whenever opening a pool, it's a good idea to give a Safety Scan. This is not one of those trademarked terms, btw, 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's start 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 of the pool area, 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, safety signs... 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.
Water Clarity can certainly be a safety issue. If you cannot see the bottom clearly, you won't be able to spot a body on the bottom. In an emergency, cloudy or green water can hamper rescue efforts.
Access of emergency vehicles. Seconds count in a drowning emergency - could an ambulance pull up to your pool? Keep a clear area near the pool gate for emergency access. Commercial pools are required to provide such access, but in residential settings, paramedics may find cars, campers, bushes or long distances between them and the edge of the pool.
Fence 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 unless this gate would be used by emergency personnel.
Safety Equipment such as a reaching pole, ring buoy, throw rope and a nearby phone could save lives during an emergency. Pool Rescue Equipment is required for commercial pools, and a great idea for residential pools.
Training in CPR and/or water rescue for the pool superviser is another Layer of Protection. If you have a pool, try online certification by the Red Cross, so you are ready - if called upon.
In Summary, Give your Pool a Safety Scan by inspecting:
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