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Pool Safety 101: Advice from a Best PickFebruary 28th, 2014 by
This article was crafted with the help of Bob Cook of AquaVision, Inc.
Slipping into the cool water of a crystal blue pool can be the best relief on a hot summer day, and with a pool right in your backyard, an escape from the heat is that much closer. However, your backyard pool can pose a danger for small children and pets. To help safeguard your family and neighbors, we enlisted the help of one of our Atlanta-based Best Picks. Bob Cook, president of AquaVision, Inc., details safety tips and expert advice for all types of pool owners.
Safety Considerations for New Pool Owners
If you’ve been dreaming of adding a pool to your backyard, it’s important to consult your HOA or neighborhood zoning regulations first to be aware of any restrictions. For example, it’s required in several states for homeowners to install an approved fence around the perimeter of the pool; the specific requirements for the fence will differ based on your community’s rules and regulations. To make your fence safer, Bob recommends adding a self-closing gate that opens outward—away from the pool—and not inward. “Some communities require a self-closing gate, and others don’t. If your community doesn’t require a self-closing gate, it’s still a good idea to add one to your fence for additional safety,” Bob advises.
Safety Considerations for Existing Pool Owners
Generally, Bob says that new fences that are built around pools should be a minimum of 42 inches high. “However, there are a lot of existing fences that don’t necessarily meet approval,” he adds. “Because these fences were preexisting, they’re grandfathered in.” For increased safety, Bob strongly recommends replacing existing fences that don’t meet the new height recommendation.
If you have an older pool that needs to be remodeled, Bob suggests removing the existing drain cover and replacing it with a Virginia Graeme Baker-compliant (VGB) anti-snare drain cover. Older drain covers are flat with just a few slits in the middle, which make them very easy to clog. VGB-compliant drain covers are made so that they rise up approximately an inch, and they have holes all over the top and along the perimeter of the one-inch raised portion. “The VGB-compliant drain covers are still capable of getting clogged, but the new design makes it extremely difficult,” explains Bob.
Commercial pools are required to have dual drains, but it’s an optional safety choice for residential pool owners. “If someone sits on one of the drains, the other will continue to drain,” says Bob. He suggests that, at the very least, homeowners should have VGB-compliant drains installed.
Safety Considerations for All Pool Owners
Below are several safety measures that Bob recommends for homeowners to use around their pool. Follow one or more of the suggestions provided to keep your children and pets safe.
Pool maintenance. Bob highly recommends regular maintenance in order to keep the pool water clean and clear. He also says to “test the pool water’s chemicals at least once a week to make sure that the sanitizer level is correct.”
Gates and doors. It’s important to have a fence with self-closing gates, but Bob also points out that “homeowners should make sure all gates have a functioning lock and are secure at all times. It’s probably the easiest thing to do to keep the pool area safe.”
Removable safety fences. During the summer, if the pool area is not in use but the area around the pool is being used for entertaining, “homeowners can install temporary, removable child safety fences that sit around the perimeter of the pool,” Bob says. This allows homeowners to secure the area around the pool while still enjoying the space.
Alarms. Adding alarms to any doors that lead out to the pool could be a safety measure that is already mandatory for your neighborhood. However, if your neighborhood doesn’t require them, Bob recommends adding this feature anyway. “It’s a good idea to put alarms on doors and windows that open to the pool side, especially if you have kids that are tall enough to open them.”
Security camera. If you already have a security system with video-monitoring capabilities, consider using a security camera around the pool area to increase safety—“so the pool area can be viewed from inside the house.”
Infrared beams. Infrared beams can secure the area around the pool. “An eye creates an unbroken perimeter around the pool, and if anything interrupts the beam, then an alarm is set off inside the house,” says Bob. The beams should be adjusted according to the height of your child—typically about 12 to 24 inches aboveground. Depending on the height of your dog, this may not be the best option for keeping your pup safe.
Safety wristwatch. Parents may also want to consider a safety wristwatch for their child. “It looks like a wristwatch, but it has a water-sensitive sensor on it. You put it on your child’s wrist, and if the sensor gets wet, it sets off an alarm to alert the parents,” Bob explains. There are also wristwatches available for pets and seniors.
Pool covers. “In the winter, a lot of people don’t think about their pool because they can’t use it for swimming,” says Bob. “To secure the pool during the winter, we install safety covers over the pool.” The covers are mesh so that rainwater can go through, but leaves can’t.
On a final note, Bob stresses that parents should enroll their children in swimming lessons as soon as possible. When it comes to securing your pool area and your children, you can never be too safe.
Enlisting more than one of the measures mentioned above will provide you with multiple layers of protection. Even with these measures in place, though, it’s always important to keep a vigilant eye on your children and their friends when they are in and around the pool. With a strong pool safety plan, you can enjoy the cool waters of the pool while keeping your family safe.
This spotlight article was crafted with the help of AquaVision, Inc., a Pool Companies Best Pick in Atlanta. While we strive to provide relevant information to all homeowners, some of the material we publish may not pertain to every area. Please contact your local Best Pick companies for any further area-specific advice.