There’s nothing better in the summer than having a backyard pool. Swimming is a great way to entertain friends, keep the kids busy, and get some exercise while staying cool (swimming is actually the third-most-popular physical activity in the U.S., preceded only by walking and equipment-based exercise). Plus, of course, it’s a good investment in your home; in ground pools can increase property values by up to 8%.
But as nice as it can be to have a residential pool of any kind, pools and spas do come with a few safety concerns. Fortunately, the risks associated with swimming pools and spas can easily be alleviated with a little preparation. Here are seven safety checks you should do as soon as possible so you can enjoy your pool area worry-free:
- Is There an Intact, Sturdy Fence?
All in ground pools should be surrounded by fencing at least 4 feet tall. Gates into this fenced area should be self-closing. You should ensure that posts are close enough together that a small child would not be able to wiggle through them and gain access to the pool.
- Are There Alarms on Direct-Access Doors?
If a door from your home opens into the pool area (something that’s extremely common with patio sliders), you need to install an alarm that sounds when the door is opened — especially if you have young children in the house.
- Is There a Pool Cover Designed for Safety?
Some kinds of pool covers can act as additional safety measures, though you should never intentionally put weight on top of a pool cover. Getting a quality cover also makes good financial sense — a cover reduces evaporation, and can cut heating costs by between 50% and 70% — so you might as well buy one that also offers safety advantages.
- Have Rescue Items Been Stocked?
You should have a life preserver (at least 17 inches in diameter) and a safety hook (designed to pull struggling swimmers to safety) in a place that’s near the pool and easy to access.
- Is the Deck Clear and Clean?
Uneven pavement, plant debris or scattered toys can all present tripping hazards. Make sure the pool deck is cleared of all these items on a regular basis.
- Are the Chemical Levels Correct?
Maintaining the proper chemical levels in your pool is crucial when it comes to preventing the growth of bacteria and algae. If you don’t keep up with testing the water and adding chemicals as needed, you risk infections.
- Is Everyone Safe to Swim?
Pay attention not only to the pool itself, but also swimmers in your household. Make sure everyone who is around the pool regularly is a confident swimmer. Also ensure that any adults who act as lifeguards around your pool are educated as to what drowning looks like and which games and behaviors aren’t worth the risk.
How else can homeowners make sure their pools and spas are safe to enjoy? Share your tips in the comments.