Important tips on making your pool a safe place to swim

Children at the edge of swimming pool
According to the USA Swimming Foundation, from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2017 at least 163 children under the age of 15 drowned in swimming pools or hot tubs. Nearly 70 percent (112) were under the age of five.

Whether you have your own pool or use someone else’s, take a moment to read these five important, potentially lifesaving, safety tips from the public health and safety organization  NSF International.

#1 Pay attention to pool drains and covers

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that between 2012 and 2016, 17 people became trapped in pool/hot tub drains. Eighty-two percent were children under the age of 15.

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

  • Buy drain covers that are certified to meet the most current anti-entrapment standards, which should be marked on the cover.
  • Make sure the drain covers are properly installed.
  • Make sure everyone knows where the emergency shut-off switch is located and how to use it.

#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 the water surface)
  • Sub-surface disturbance sensor (mounted on 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)

#3 Use pool/spa covers safely

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

  • Remove covers completely before using a pool or hot tub.
  • Drain any standing water from the cover surface, especially after it rains.

For more information about covers, visit the Foundation for Aquatic Injury Prevention.

#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.
  • Keep pool or spa properly sanitized and maintained.
  • Store chemicals in a cool, dry environment out of reach of children.

#5 Always supervise children using the pool

Small children require constant adult supervision around pools and hot tubs. All it takes is a split second for something to happen. And remember to:

  • Establish and enforce rules.
  • Not allow kids to run or play games near the pool.
  • Keep toys, especially wheeled toys and trikes and bikes, 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 may have had a pool or hot tub 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.

For more safety tips, check out The Ultimate Guide to Swimming Safety for Kids from Jenny Silverstone at Mom Loves Best. She also shared this helpful 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.