Five Steps to Keep Your Pool Safe This Summer

Three children at edge of swimming poolLast year, more than 200 children between the ages of 1 and 14 drowned in a swimming pool or spa. Three out of four were under the age of 5.

NSF International, a public health and safety organization, has put together five simple steps you should take to make your pool safe this summer.

Tip #1 Pay attention to pool drains and covers

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that between 2008 and 2012, 39 people became trapped in pool/spa drains, including 2 children who died.

Don’t let anyone play on or near drains and be sure to:

  • Purchase drain covers that meet current Pool & Spa Safety Act requirements.
  • Make sure the drain covers are properly installed.
  • Make sure everyone using the pool knows where the emergency shut-off switch is located and how to use it.

Tip #2 Install a pool alarm

Most young children who drown in pools are out of sight fewer than five minutes.

In addition to a fence, consider installing a certified pool alarm to keep anyone from entering the pool or spa without your knowledge. Common types of pool alarms include:

  • Surface wave sensor (floats on water surface)
  • Sub-surface disturbance sensor (mounted to the pool wall below the water surface)
  • Wristband (worn on child’s wrist to alert adults if a child should accidentally fall into the water)

Tip #3 Use pool/spa covers safely

Within 1 to 20 seconds, a partially removed pool/spa cover could return to its original position, hiding someone underneath. Be sure to:

  • Remove covers completely before using a pool or spa.
  • Drain any standing water from the cover surface, especially after rain.

Tip #4 Store and use pool chemicals safely

Mishandling of pool chemicals causes 4,000 emergency visits each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Don’t take chances:

  • Replace pool chemicals past their expiration dates.
  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Store chemicals out of reach of children.

Tip #5 Always supervise children using the pool

Small children require constant adult supervision around pools and spas — there is no substitute for the watchful eye of caring adults. Don’t forget to also:

  • Establish and enforce rules for pool and spa use.
  • Not allow kids to run or play games near the pool
  • Keep toys, particularly wheeled toys and tricycles, away from the pool
  • Make sure you know if anyone using your pool cannot swim, including adults, but especially children.

No matter how many years you’ve had a pool in your backyard, never, ever take it for granted that everything is safe. And, don’t ever turn your back on a child in or near your pool, not even for what seems like just one second. That’s all it takes.

Pool Safety Infographic

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.