Many children drown or are injured in residential pools every year. By implementing a good set of safety rules, parents can help keep their kids and visitors safe. Some people may think it sounds rude to lay down a list of rules in front of pool guests, but the cost of a liability lawsuit would be much worse. To avoid sounding like a stickler, simply explain to pool guests that their safety is important. Explain that they can help out by following the safety rules. Parents should review these rules with children frequently. Quiz them on each point to ensure they understand thoroughly. The following tips are helpful for developing a strong set of pool and spa safety rules.
- Specify all requirements. This should be the most important step. Decide who can go in the pool and at what time. For example, children should have specific blocks of time when they are allowed in the pool, and they should not be allowed to go in when an adult is not present. Teach them it is dangerous to run. Instead of just telling them not to run, explain how they can slip, fall into the pool and possibly drown. Discourage horseplay or rough water games. Children who cannot get along in the pool should understand that there will be consequences. Kids should also understand how important it is to stay away from drains and filters.
- Have an emergency plan. Even if strict rules are set in place, pool accidents may still happen. It is important to know what to do. Make sure a cordless phone is always near the pool. If an accident happens, it will be easier for someone to call 911. Adults should learn how to perform CPR. The Red Cross offers low-cost classes, and some hospitals or health clinics offer free classes. Make sure kids know how to dial 911, and they should know what address to tell emergency response teams to locate.
- Teach kids how to swim. Although toddlers may not be up for actual swimming lessons, it is good to put them in the water with floating pool toys. Do not leave them alone, but let them get accustomed to the water. When children are old enough for swimming lessons, enroll them in beginner courses. Let them continue until they complete all of the courses. Adults who have never taken swimming lessons should also learn how to swim. As a backup, it is helpful to have a life-saving floating raft attached to a rope or pole.
- Keep the pool area safe. When the pool is not in use, make sure it is covered. Purchase a pool cover manufactured by professionals. Never use a tarp. Some nets work well as pool covers, but they become weathered over time, so be sure to replace them every few years. Nets may also be easy for some children to remove. The optimal choice is a durable hard cover with a locking mechanism. Make sure there is a fence around the pool or yard. The fence should stand at least four feet high. If a house is used as a fourth side to enclose a pool, install door alarms. This will alert parents when kids enter the pool area. It is also helpful to install underwater alarms or surface wave alarms. If parents do not deactivate these alarms, they will go off when kids enter the pool.
If a child is missing, be sure to check the pool first. This is a thought that no parent wants to dwell on, but it is best to rule out that possibility first. Parents should always carefully watch kids who are playing in the pool. Accidents can happen in a second, and children can start drowning in less than a minute. Check drain covers frequently, and make sure they are compliant with current regulations. A pool service company will be able to provide information about current drain cover specifications. Remember to keep any gates to the pool area locked. Homeowners may be liable for uninvited people who wander into an unlocked pool area and get injured.