by Rob Cox, December 22, 2010
5 Danger Zones around your pool
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water - here's a list of 5 things that can otherwise go wrong around a swimming pool. All types of accidents can occur using and maintaining swimming pools. Chemical, Electrical, Physical traumas abound around a swimming pool.
When we speak about Pool Safety and Layers of Protection for swimming pools, we primarily focus on drowning prevention of swimmers and access prevention for non-swimmers. We may spend so much time working to prevent tragedy that other dangers around a swimming pool may be ignored.
Top 5 areas of swimming pool dangers
1. Diving Boards: Basic pool diving board rules include No Horseplay, One at a Time, Look before you leap, etc. This should be reinforced with all swimmers. If too many swimmers are using the pool, "close the board" to diving. Head injuries are common when divers slip or don't dive outwardly. The most tragic of diving board accidents are spinal injuries when divers make contact with the pool floor. Most of these happen to be Male, between 18-35 years old, a bit overweight and also perhaps a bit tipsy. These accidents continue to put young men in wheelchairs at an alarming rate. Your pool may not be deep enough for a diving board, and if so, remove it from the pool deck.
2. Pool Chemicals: In the water, doing their job? Not really, what we are talking about here are pool chemicals transported and stored improperly. Keep all pool chemicals secure, in a cool and dry location, out of the reach of children. If you have lots of old pool chemicals laying around, with bags torn open, or the plastic bucket is cracking - find the time to make a trip to your local landfill to dispose of - or add them to the pool if suitable. Chlorine and Acids (pH down) are especially hazardous and must always be sealed tightly - and kept dry and seperated. Keep all chemicals from any possibility of mixing. For more pool chemical safety information.
3. Pool Electrical: The pool pump, pool lights, pool heaters, salt systems and controllers all use some form of electricity. Make sure that the conduit (the rigid or flexible tube containing wires) is replaced when it shows signs of wear and tear. Pool lights, installed incorrectly have electrified pools, have resulted in death. Timer clocks, and breaker panels contain enough amperage to stop a weak heart. Make sure that your circuits are properly grounded and the steel equipment properly bonded. I guess we should also consider lightning. All swimmers out of the pool when you hear thunder, as lightning is attracted to water. Finally, never use an electrical appliance within 10 feet of the pool, and always make sure you plug into a GFCI outlet (the type with the test button). Want more pool electrical safety information?
4. Main Drain Hazards: With the passage of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act in 2008, much attention has been brought upon entrapment injuries, most caused by powerful suction of pool or spa main drains. The new law requires public pools to replace single main drains with safer dual main drain setups, and/or install sensoring equipment to shut off pumps in the presence of a vacuum - or entrapment. Drains, or vacuum cleaner lines or any suction port that hair, or body parts can be sucked into, can trap even good swimmers of large body size. If your pool has a single main drain which has a dedicated line running all the way to the pump, make sure that new, safer drain covers are installed. Also consider modernizing to a dual drain system, or installing sensoring equipment, as mentioned above. Follow this link for more information on main drain pool safety. ~
5. Solid Pool Winter Covers: Sure, mesh safety covers are very safe, but the solid pool cover, held in place with water bags and such, or clamped around the edge of an above ground pool, are definately not safe. Solid pool covers, if a small child or animal falls on them, wrap themselves around the legs and body of the victim, with rushing cold water on top of the cover enveloping the person. Keep solid pool covers firmly anchored, and keep your cover pump operational, and limit or prevent access to the pool area during the winter.