When we consider swimming pool safety, drowning is often the very first thought that enters our minds. It is necessary to take proper precautions to make your pool as safe as possible. The first action to take is to consider the physical devices that help prevent accidents.
One of the most common devices is a child safety net. This is actually a mesh type of fencing that has posts every four or five feet that slip down into holes that have been drilled into the pool deck. They all link together and have latches that hook into eyelets periodically along the tops of the posts to draw the sections taut. They are four feet or so above the pool deck so toddlers cannot reach the latches. Some fences come with a main gate that allows entry at only one main point, with the opening device also being at the top. These fences are excellent to prevent small children, as well as pets, from accidentally entering the pool.
Another type of protection is a pool cover, which overlaps the edges of the pool by a foot or so. It has spring loaded straps and hooks that connect to metal pop-up heads around the perimeter of the pool, attached into the pool deck. Hooking all these straps to the metal heads draws the cover tight across the top of the pool, preventing children and animals from entering the pool. You will want to check the pound rating of the cover, which tells you how many pounds of weight the cover can bear on top of it.
Other swimming pool safety items you will want to have around your pool are a pole with a hook, and a round buoy with a rope attached. These are safety accessories you commonly see at public swimming pools, which are required by the local health department.
The pole needs to be long enough to extend to a person in the pool from any point around the perimeter. The hook on the end is metal and shaped in a curved fashion to allow it to be slipped around a person’s body to pull them toward the edge of the pool.
The buoy is a round flotation device with a large hole in the middle, like a doughnut. The attached rope allows a person to throw the buoy to a person in the pool while maintaining a hold on the rope. The person having trouble swimming in the pool can hold onto the buoy and be pulled to safety.
Prevention is key in swimming pool safety, so have any children fitted with proper flotation devices before they get near the pool. The best ones are vests that strap to the child’s chest. The arm flotation ones are usually air filled and can develop a leak, which can slowly cause the child to sink. Make sure you are always watching them regardless of the device you use. The best prevention is to constantly be in the water with them.
Once you have the proper safety devices around your swimming pool, you can practice using them in case you ever have to “fish” someone out. There is great peace of mind knowing you are prepared to save someone from drowning.
The other consideration you should have as a pool owner is to take a water safety course taught by a locally qualified instructor. Most of us think of the Red Cross or a nearby YMCA. They offer courses for adults, and have swimming lessons for beginners.
Learning how to rescue someone from drowning is a great skill to have, and takes a minimal amount of time to learn. The techniques taught regarding mouth-to-mouth resuscitation are skills that can be used anywhere, not just around a swimming pool. You may be the person to save a loved one from drowning or choking. If the unfortunate event occurs, you may be the only one in the vicinity who can save them. By the time someone calls the ambulance and the rescue team arrives, precious minutes will have passed and the person in trouble may not live. Having been a member of a rescue squad and responding to many distress calls, I can tell you that in most cases the person was beyond help by the time we arrived. The time starts ticking away the minute a person stops breathing, and they only have a few minutes before it’s too late.
Proper preparation and personal responsibility are the key ingredients in swimming pool safety. Your fencing, cover, pole hook, buoy-and-rope, and proper training are essential elements to a lifetime of swimming enjoyment. Peace of mind cannot be purchased; it only comes from proper preparation.
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