Most homeowners see their swimming pool as "a memory maker." What else can bring so many fond memories of babies, children, teenagers and adults having fun with friends and family? Yet in all this delight, we must remember that a swimming pool has risks, just like any other item in your home.
The good news is that over the years, the swimming pool industry has made great strides in improving the safety of swimming pools. Many years ago, the industry created non-slip surfaces, to reduce the likelihood of slips and falls. Fences and alarms added another layer of protection. Most cities, in fact, have specific requirements for fencing around a swimming pool.
In recent years, the industry has shifted its attention to "entrapment prevention." In certain cases, especially on older pool designs, a child or adult could become entrapped by the suction on a drain. Recent improvements in pool equipment and design have greatly reduced the likelihood of this ever happening. New pools are expected to have at least two of these three options:
Dual Drains - New pools should have a second drain opening at least 3 feet away from the primary drain opening. This greatly reduces the suction on either of the two drains, reducing the chance of entrapment. It's possible to upgrade an older single-drain pool to dual drains. However, it requires fairly extensive cutting into the interior plaster or aggregate finish. Therefore, most homeowners should not consider converting to dual drains except as part of a pool remodel or renovation project.
Anti-Entrapment Drain Covers - These specially designed drain covers distribute the suction into a "safe zone," making it nearly impossible for anyone to become entrapped. Standard on all new pools, these can also be retrofitted to most older swimming pools. Important -- you should never let anyone enter a swimming pool that has a loose or missing drain cover. If you see a problem with your drain cover, you should close the pool and notify your builder or local pool service company right away.
Safety Vacuum Release System - When a drain becomes blocked, the SVRS provides a rapid vacuum release. This quickly frees anyone whose body or limb is trapped on the drain. This is a good potential safety upgrade for an older pool that only has one drain. Contact us if you want to add this upgrade to your pool.
(SVRS photo courtesy of Vac-Alert)
Layers of Protection
As members of the APSP (Association of Pool and Spa Professionals), we support the concept of "layers of protection." This means the pool, spa, or hot tub is equipped with several devices to delay unsupervised access, or to warn of a child's presence. Following are some options identified by the APSP for protecting children and preventing accidents:
Fencing: Isolate the swimming pool with a minimum four-foot-high enclosure.
Safety Covers: An impenetrable covering that completely covers the pool, spa, or hot tub will prevent access to the water when there is not supervision.
Alarms: Alarms are available for doors, fences, in pools, and as a clip-on for children. Alarms detect unwanted entrances to your pool, spa, or hot tub.
Rope and Float Line: Place these across the pool to alert swimmers to the separation of the deep end from the shallow end of the pool.
Rescue Equipment: Equipment such as a life ring and shepherd's hook should be placed near the pool in an easily accessible spot.
Posted Emergency Information: Post all CPR, other emergency information, and warning signs, as well as the emergency telephone number - 911 - near the pool, spa, or hot tub.
Outside Telephone: Be sure to have a telephone in case you need to summon help.
For more information about pool safety, check out any of these links: