Though it’s only spring, if these temps are any indication of things to come, we’re in for a scorcher of a summer. Even the 2015 Farmer’s Almanac predicts, hotter dryer conditions for Texas. Now if that’s not enough to send you in search of a pool, I don’t know what is. Or, perhaps you’re one of the estimated 7-9 million who are fortunate enough to have a pool right in their own backyard.
Whether you’re gearing up for summer and readying your pool party invites, or thinking about putting in a pool this year, we’ve got some tips to help keep everyone safe.
As fun, and necessary, as a pool can be in the dog days of summer, taking care to protect against preventable drowning deaths and injuries is extremely important. Though the legality and liability does tend to vary by state, the onus is ultimately on the pool owner to do his or her part in protecting both strangers and loved ones from drowning.
The most consistent way to decrease the risk of an accidental drowning death is to erect a fence around the perimeter of the pool area. Doing so prevents those most vulnerable, namely young children, from accessing your pool unattended.
According to the CDC, “A four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning 83% compared to three-sided property-line fencing.” Some other tips to inform and improve the safety of your pool fence:
- Make sure your fence completely separates the pool area from direct access to your house or any play areas in your yard.
- Pool fences should be at least 48 inches (or 4 feet) tall, with fence slats no more than 4 inches (or 10 centimeters) apart. Children should not be able to easily climb over of squeeze through.
- In general, we suggest you stay away from chain-link fences which can be easier to climb. However, if you do go with a chain-link option, ensure the diamond shapes are 1-3/4 inches or smaller.
- Your fence needs to have a self-closing, and more importantly, self-latching gate which locks high above a child’s reach. Gates should also open away from the pool, so that if accidentally left open and leaned against, they’ll close off the pool area.
- Install a pool alarm on the gate, or any other area which accesses the pool area so that if left open (or opened without consent) you’ll be notified.
- When building, make sure specs show that any poolside equipment is positioned within the gate’s perimeter so it can’t be used to climb the fence and access your pool.
Note that these tips also apply to inflatable or above-ground pools. Because they are often considered “portable,” they may be technically exempt from local building codes which require pool fencing. However due to their soft edges, it isn’t uncommon for children to fall headfirst in when leaned upon.
Some additional safety measures you can use to see that your pool remains accident-free include:
- Using hard pool covers when the pool is not in use.
- Keeping a landline telephone near the pool so that 911 can quickly and easily be alerted in an emergency.
- Teaching children to swim by enrolling them in swimming lessons prior to getting a pool.
- Putting up pool signs (ie: warning signs) like no trespassing, no diving, etc.
- Learning CPR from an in-person or online accredited program such as CPR Care. In a drowning emergency, seconds count!
For more information on the pool fences requirements in the Dallas Ft. Worth area, see this summary from State of Texas.