A swimming pool can be a wonderful thing in the summer months. But if you don’t consider it carefully, it can be a source of tragedy. The most important issue to consider when thinking about a pool, whether in-ground or above, is safety. Thousands are drowned each year in home swimming pools, especially children. So before you consider anything, it’s safety first. The Consumer Products Safety Commission has a booklet describing the safety considerations. It doesn’t consist of regulations just guidelines to help you make your pool safe. Each locality has it’s own safety requirements, usually built into the building codes, that you have to consider when you build a pool.
Consider young children, especially toddlers who are quick, curious and unaware. Fencing, fencing, fencing is the catchword. Keep in mind that fencing applies to above ground pool as well as large portable pools.
Statistics show that of the approximately 300 children each year that drown, 75% are under the age of five. And most of those were under the age of three. And drownings are not the only casualties. Over 4,000 children each year sustain injuries due to submersion, many in home pools.
A fence around a pool should be at least 4 feet high and should be on four sides. Using the house as the fourth side is not a good idea. All fencing should have self-closing gates and be fitted with locks out of reach of young children. The rule of thumb is that a child should not be able, in any way, to get to the pool without an adult present. Any horizontal members of the fencing should be on the pool side of the fence to keep children from climbing over them. Gaps in the fencing, including the bottom, should be small enough so that a small child cannot squeeze through or under them.
Alarmed doors from the house to the pool are also a good idea. Children have a way of getting out of doors to the pool area. Alarms should be distinct from any other sound in the home area and should be loud and last at least 30 seconds when they are set off.
Keep the pool mechanisms out of the reach of children, the filter motor, heater etc. should be inaccessible except to adults.
Finally, children should be taught about water safety – everybody should know how to swim, including young children. If a child is missing, look at the pool before anything else. Make sure babysitters and visitors are informed about pool safety. There should be a telephone near the pool as well as lifesaving equipment near the pool.
Finally, get a copy of your local building codes regarding pools and read it carefully before you do anything. Then if you decide to go ahead, get a permit.