Having a home with a pool comes with a lot of perks. Time spent splashing around with the kids, serenely floating on the water, or just lounging in the sun with your favorite book makes the effort and expense of maintaining your oasis well worth the effort. Of course, having a pool on your property creates a new set of responsibilities for homeowners, especially where safety is concerned. It’s important to protect your children, pets, and wildlife from getting injured — or worse, drowning — and there are several ways you can make your pool area a safer and more secure area.
Install a Home Security System
Pool safety may be the last feature homeowners think about when considering adding a home security system, but they can play a vital role in protecting your children, pets, and other family members who shouldn’t be in the water without supervision. Setting your door’s alarms — even when you’re home — will immediately alert you if anyone heads outside where they can access the pool area. Whether you have a professional install a home security system or opt for a DIY security setup, you’ll feel more at ease knowing that you’ll always be in the know about when your loved ones are making their way to an area where they may be in danger.
Teach Your Children to Swim
Teaching your kids to swim as soon as they’re old enough should be your first priority as a pool owner. You can teach them on your own, but signing them up for lessons will offer them a fun experience while emphasizing the importance of learning how to stay safe in and around the pool.
Knowing how to perform CPR is an important skill for parents and pet owners, but it’s critical for anyone who owns a pool. There are helpful online resources demonstrating the procedure, but if possible, take a class in person so you can practice with a trained professional. Community centers, hospitals, and even police stations and fire departments often offer courses in becoming certified in CPR, sometimes at no cost.
Create Pool Rules for Your Family
Rules for health and safety around the pool need to be clearly laid out for every member of your family. Create a set of guidelines, which may include:
- Supervision requirements. You may feel comfortable allowing teens to use the pool when you’re not around, but younger children need to be taught that they aren’t allowed to be in the pool area without your supervision ever.
- Pool hours. Kids who are allowed to use the pool on their own should be given parameters about when they’re able to go swimming. A good rule of thumb is to require parents to be home and awake any time the pool is used, meaning children can’t dive in until you’ve woken up in the morning or after you’ve gone to bed for the night.
- Pet safety. In general, pets should be kept away from the water. If you have a pet you allow to use the pool (some dogs are natural-born swimmers, after all!), make a rule that an adult must be present any time he wants to go for a dip. Kids shouldn’t be left alone with pets in the pool area — should Fido get injured, children likely won’t know how to respond, which could lead to tragic results.
Once you’ve designated a set of rules, go over them in detail with your family, and be sure to discuss why each one is important. It’s crucial your children know these restrictions are in place to protect everyone and not to take away from their pool-time fun, because they’ll be more on board with respecting them. Lastly, go over the consequences of breaking these rules (and be sure to follow through on punishments so there’s no question of the importance of obeying them!).
Surround Your Pool with a Fence
Fencing around your pool area is a great defense against wandering children, pets, and wildlife. For maximum security, be sure to add a solid structure, like plastic or vinyl rather than wood or metal, which have gaps between panels and will allow critters in when you’re not on lifeguard duty.
As an added safety measure, add an alarm, lock, or keypad to the gate leading to your pool area. Alarms are often options with professionally-installed and DIY home security systems, or you can purchase an outdoor alarm that will sound any time the gate is open.
Install a Pool Alarm
Your home security system can be used to alert you to doors and even windows opening out to your pool area, but it’s also important to install a device that lets you know when a human or animal has gotten in the water. Pool alarms are an invaluable safety measure — so much so that they’re required by law in some areas. There are a variety of options to choose from, but in general, water alarms measure movement in the pool using motion sensors, letting you know right away if a kid or critter is taking a dip.
You can also use a portable pool alarm that your child can wear on her wrist or that your pet can wear on his collar. If your loved one wanders too close to the pool area, an alarm will sound so you can immediately come to the rescue.
Give Animals a Way to Escape
There are few worse feelings for pool owners than the dismay of discovering a drowned animal in their pool — especially if it’s a beloved pet. Unfortunately, animals both big and small can be in serious danger if they fall in the water. Small creatures, like frogs, mice, and young birds, can be pulled into your pool’s filter (which submerges and drowns them), and critters of all sizes may have trouble escaping because they can’t reach or grasp the edge of the pool.
Thankfully, there are several helpful tools that can help save animals’ lives should they fall in the water. We recommend utilizing one or more of these great products:
- The Critter Skimmer replaces the lid of your pool filter with a version containing a ramp and a small hole at the top, providing an easy way for little animals to exit the pool on their own. Even animals that are too big to fit through the hole will be safe, since they can sit on the ramp while awaiting rescue rather than be pulled underwater.
- The Frog Log sits at the edge of your pool and floats on the surface of the water, providing an easy-to-reach space for animals to climb out of the pool.
- The Skamper-Ramp floats at the edge of your pool in order to offer animals of all sizes a way to quickly get out of the water. This device can be especially helpful in above-ground pools that only have ladders (not stairs), which are almost impossible for creatures to traverse.
- The Skimmer Wizard attaches to your pool’s filter, preventing animals from being pulled into it and drowning. While this is a great gadget, it’s most effective in saving lives when paired with a product like the Frog Log or Skamper-Ramp, since it may be difficult to climb onto for slippery paws and claws.
Light It Up
Simply keeping your pool area well-lit increases safety for people and animals alike. If it’s not in your budget or practical to have lights installed in your pool — if you use it year-round and never empty it, for example — you may want to consider one or a few of the following options:
- Underwater lights that attach to the side of your pool with brackets
- Motion-sensored flood lights attached to the exterior of your home that illuminate the pool area
- Solar-powered stake lamps in the yard surrounding your pool
- Lights that float on the surface of the pool
Cover Your Pool when It’s Not In Use
It takes some extra effort — and often, an added expense — to add a pool cover you can put down between uses, but the peace of mind it provides is invaluable. As a bonus, in addition to keeping critters (and people) out during off-hours, you’ll help your pool stay clean and retain heat.
Retractable covers add convenience, but they’re an expensive investment. Not only do you have to pay for their installation, but their motorized parts will add more to your pool-maintenance budget. A less expensive alternative is to purchase a mesh or vinyl covering that you secure over the top of your pool by fastening the edges to stakes that are drilled into the surrounding cement of an in-ground pool or the sides of an above-ground model.
Securely Store Your Pool Products
Any chemicals you use to care for your pool need to be stored completely out of reach of curious kids and critters. Whether you place them in your garage or shed, keep them on a high shelf, and make sure they’re locked up at all times.
There are many upsides to having a pool to relax by and rejuvenate in, but the safety of others should always be your top priority. All it takes are a few steps (many of them being DIY!) and a modest investment to keep children, pets, wildlife, and all of your guests healthy and happy all year long.