At this time of year, many homeowners open their pools for the summer. If you have an outdoor pool, you may hire someone to open the pool or decide to open it yourself. After the pool cover has been lifted and the water cleaned and ready, however, you need to finish opening your pool by inspecting your pool area for safety. Whether you open your pool yourself, or have someone else do this for you, you need to personally:
1) Check the pool area for any signs of damage. Check handrails, ladders, diving board, pool cover, and the pool itself. Wear and tear as well as damage can make swimming in your pool less safe and can make you vulnerable to injury. For example, you will want to check your diving board carefully. A poorly maintained diving board can break and cause a swimmer to go into a free fall, which can lead to spinal cord injuries or brain injuries. If your diving board has any stress cracks, replace it. Your board should have a non-skid surface. If the surface is smooth, there are refinishing kits which allow you to add a non-skid surface to your diving board for a reasonable cost.
2) Pay attention to your fencing and gate. Premises liability cases can easily result if your fence and gate are not well maintained. Now that you will be entering and leaving the pool area regularly, you will need to make sure that the gate and fence are secure. Consider installing an alarm to alert you to when someone enters the pool area. This will prevent children from wandering near the pool unsupervised. Studies have suggested that isolation fences are the best defense, and can prevent 50 to 90% of child drownings when used correctly. Considering that drowning is the second-leading cause of toddler deaths related to injury, according to reports by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), isolation fences are a good idea. Isolation fences can also help prevent injuries. According to some research, for every child who drowns in a pool, between 3 and 8 other children are taken to an emergency room for pool-related submersion injuries, which can result in permanent damage. In addition to isolation fencing, homeowners with pools may want to install property-line fencing as an added layer of protection. All isolation fences around pools should include a self-latching, self-closing gate, as these gates offer the most protection.
3) Go over pool rules. Many pool injuries are preventable. Make sure you review basic safety rules – such as no running near the pool, no swimming alone, and always lock the gate behind you – with your entire family. Write up the pool rules and post them near the pool for guests.
4) Set up a pool cleaning and inspection schedule for summer. Proper maintenance and inspection will ensure that your pool area is safe and any maintenance issues are dealt with right away – before they cause an accident.
5) Add safety features to your pool. This is a good time to add some safety features to your pool. A non-skid surface near the pool, for example, will help you prevent slip and fall accidents. Good handrails or an alarm system can also help protect your pool. If you add a safety feature or two each year, you will soon have layers of protection, making your pool safer. According to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, layers of protection are the best way to avoid drownings and pool accidents.