Outdoor Living

Pool Safety

Text by Nancy Johnston


Nothing beats a refreshing swim on a hot summer day, thus the home pool has become an attractive investment for many families. If you’re lucky enough to have your own pool, remembering the following pool safety tips will help keep it a wonderful way to cool off and have fun safely all summer long with family and friends.

Statistics cite accidental drowning as the second leading cause of injury related death in Canadian children less than 14 years of age, with pools being responsible for nearly half of these deaths. Further study has determined that fencing is the most important consideration when it comes to making your pool safe. Everyone knows whether it’s a puddle or a pool, kids tend to gravitate towards water so even if you don’t have any children, you still have to ensure your pool is in an enclosed, secured area, inaccessible to them. Fortunately, these days there are many pool fencing options with designs that are both visually appealing and address these safety concerns.

The recommended minimum requirement for fencing is that it be at least 4 feet high, four-sided, with self-closing, self-latching gates. Vertical fence slats are preferable to horizontal as they are harder to climb. This four-sided fence should completely separate the home from the pool so it can safely protect children living in the home as well as visitors from instant access to the pool directly from the house. It should always be kept locked.

Parental supervision is vital in prevention of accidental drownings while swimming. Drowning can happen quietly, in a matter of seconds and without a call for help or flailing of arms. This timeline leaves little time for reaction on the part of the supervisor. Always stay focused on the task of watching the swimmers, as getting distracted is easy but can have dire consequences. If you haven’t already, consider getting professional training in CPR techniques for both children and adults or if you’ve previously had training but it’s been a while, perhaps a refresher course is worth considering. And of course basic first aid is also a good idea for those inevitable scrapes and other mishaps that happen wherever serious play takes place.

Make sure you inform visitors of the rules before they enter the pool area. Assign buddies to watch each other in the water and keep plenty of flutter boards, noodles, rings and other floatation devices (not toys) in and around the water for easy access in an emergency. Hang long handled pool accessories such as skimmers within reach so they can be used in an emergency to quickly reach out to a distressed swimmer. Use a whistle to halt all movement or clear the pool fast.

Since most spinal injuries occur on the first dive while diving into less than five feet of water, never allow diving in an above ground pool. Also, do not allow divers to wear earplugs because of the dangerous pressure levels when they descend.

Summer days by the pool should be a relaxing way for families to spend quality time together. Just be alert and aware and a safe time for all is guaranteed.

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