Even though accidents are rare, it is important to remember that pools can present a drowning hazard if they are improperly protected, or if their owners are irresponsible. Simply being safe while people are swimming is not enough. A pool fence is more than a good idea – in many states they are required by law.
POOL SAFETY AND FENCING
Anyone who owns or is thinking of owning a pool probably knows the basic tenets of pool safety like the back of his hand: no running on the pool deck, no glass on the pool deck, and no unsupervised swimming! As an adult who is comfortable around water, it can be easy to forget that pools are dangerous, and that people (and animals) can accidentally drown. This little reminder is not intended to alarm you into thinking that the pool or hot tub in your backyard is a looming peril for responsible adults and well-supervised children, because that is certainly not the case; however, it is intended to inform you that, as the owner of a private pool, you are de facto chief lifeguard and head groundkeeper, and it is your responsibility to keep the water and surrounding area safe!
Preventative outdoor pool safety begins and ends with a fence. While, ultimately, you may have no direct control over how people behave once they are actually in your pool, you do have control over who can get in. The same thing can be said for pets and other animals that might otherwise unwittingly wander along, but the stakes are not as high as they are for infants and young children, who are typically the primary concern of prevention efforts. As surprising as it may be, drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages twelve and under, and, as a result, states such as Florida and California have enacted laws that both mandate and regulate a standard of protective pool fencing.
Pool fences are built from a wide variety of materials. Tubular steel and aluminum are fairly common, but glass, fiberglass, and wood can all be used. While a pool fence often encloses the entire yard, or at least some significant portion, temporary fences made out of plastic and mesh are available for extra protection around the edge of the water itself – designed with small children and pets specifically in mind. As far as the permanent construction goes, it is always a good idea to check with your pool installer concerning any applicable legislation, and also to remember that even though pool fencing is intended primarily to be safe and practical, it can still be aesthetically pleasing, and lend your backyard soaks an added sense of privacy and seclusion.
Aside from fencing, the other area in which an owner has direct control over pool safety is the maintenance of clean and chemically balanced water. Regular tests of pH and chlorine levels are the easiest way to monitor the condition a pool or hot tub, and can give a quick indication as to any adjustments that need to be made. Making routine inspections of the filter system is also a good habit to get into, as catching problems early on makes them much easier to nip in the bud.
Having a private pool in your backyard is wonderful treat. A pool or spa can be a place to spend time with the family, a place to entertain guests, or (when you really need it to be) a place where you can simply relax. How you enjoy your pool is a choice that is up to you, but whether to keep it safe and secure is not. If you have any concerns regarding the safety of your current or future pool or spa, get in touch with your pool installer or technician, either of who will be more than happy to answer all of your questions.