Swimming Pool Safety Guidelines

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Swimming pools are a lot of fun.  They’re relaxing to float around in, they can cool you off on a hot day, you can get a great workout in them by swimming laps, they can even be romantic.

They can also be tragic if they’re not treated with respect.  There is an old saying that too much of anything is bad for you.  Even too much water can be bad for you; it’s called drowning.  But drowning isn’t the only danger posed by swimming pools.

Most backyard swimming pools are relatively unregulated, especially the above-ground swimming pools.  The same can’t always be said about in-ground pools.

In-ground pool regulations

There are numerous regulations governing above-ground pools during the construction phase as there would be for any construction, such as temporary enclosures, warning signs, etc.  You’ll need to check the zoning regulations and get approval and permits before construction can even get started.  Additionally, most towns require certain minimum distances between the house, the pool, wells, and septic tanks.

Once built, your city might require fences, alarms, and pumps that meet certain requirements for circulation.  Some cities and counties will give you a break on your property taxes if firefighters can suction water out of your pool to fight a fire, but they may impose additional requirements as the price for it.

Cities might also impose additional requirements for circuit breakers due to the electrical demands of the pool pump and lighting.  If you install heaters so you can use the pool in the winter, there will be additional electrical usages the city might want to examine before giving you a permit.

Diving boards

Diving boards are fun but you need to make sure the one you install has a non-slip surface.  Diving boards get wet very quickly when they’re in use.  By design, they’re bouncy and springy.  If they’re slippery too, it’s a recipe for disaster.

diving board

Image credit: Citizen D, Wikimedia

Additionally, the higher a diving board is from the water, the greater the distance you’ll penetrate the water when you hit.  Figures from the American Institutes for Research indicate 30 percent or more of all head and neck injuries from diving take place in residential and commercial swimming pools.

The American Red Cross and other international bodies which regulate professional diving competitions recommend that a 1-meter diving board have an 11.5-foot pool depth under it.  A 3-meter diving board should have a 12-foot pool depth under it.  Keep this in mind if you’re installing a diving board or building a pool.

Shallow water diving

side of a pool into shallow water

Image credit: Doug Tammany, Flickr

The same American Institutes for Research published findings that 50 percent of all  diving injuries take place in water 4 feet or shallower, whereas only 4.8 percent of injuries take place when the water is 8-feet or deeper.  Impose some safety rules about diving in your pool then stick to them even if your family and friends think you’re a killjoy.

Better safe than sorry.  It’s an old saying, but it’s also true.

Deck-side safety

Water is ubiquitous around swimming pools.  That means it’s everywhere.  Duh, right?

But anything wet is also slippery, especially the deck around the pool.  It’ll get more water on it than anything else, and be slipperier than anything else.  Concrete decks aren’t immune to this by the way.  If you’ve ever hydroplaned in your car on wet pavement, you know this from personal experience.

Don’t allow running on the deck.  It’s far too easy to slip and fall and bang your noggin on something.  A pool isn’t that big – walking will get you around it almost as fast as running, so walk!

Deck furniture should be kept well back from the side of the pool.  A good average is 6-10 feet.  This allows plenty of room for people to walk past each other without tripping over the furniture or falling into the water.

Keep all electrical appliances – radios, laptops, speakers, etc. – safely back from the water as well.  Faulty underwater lighting and aging electrical wiring around the pumps and other equipment can be dangerous as well.  Water conducts electricity so you need to be careful to keep anything electrical away from the pool.

Child safety

Children are the most vulnerable of all people to water injuries, accidents, or death.  Typically, their feet can’t touch the bottom and their swimming skills are lacking.  Never, ever , leave a child alone in a swimming pool.  It doesn’t matter if they’re wearing ten thousand floaty devices and have a tether keeping their heads above water.  Kids are the best escape artists in the world, and all it takes for a child to drown is two minutes!  Don’t risk it.

Teach your children to swim as early as possible.  This will increase their enjoyment of your swimming pool while significantly decreasing their risk of injury.  Young children are like sponges, they’ll soak it up in no time if you approach it as a game or competition.  During their lessons, you can explain why it’s dangerous to show off or play rough games in the water, so you’re getting two birds with one stone.

Adults

Don’t go swimming after taking medications or drinking alcoholic beverages.  If you eat a large meal, take your time easing back into the water and its activities.  Your body sends extra blood to your stomach to aid in digestion, depriving your muscles of some of the blood they would normally receive.  This increases the risk of cramps if you overexert yourself.

man relaxing on swimming pool

Image credit: moodboard, Flickr

Set a good example for others who are using your pool so they’ll follow your lead.  Keep a first aid kit and some lifesaver rings close at hand.