By Christopher Carthy
The party line may be that parents must watch their children, but swimming pool safety is really about protecting young children when the unexpected happens. Nothing is better than a good fence around a pool with operable self-closing gates. After researching fatalities around the country, I almost always find fence protection was broken or nonexistent. I have built many pools where we fence the property line and not the pool so that there is no fence between the house and the pool. Homeowners sometimes request this for aesthetic reasons (preferring no gate to open from the back of the house), but honestly, it is not as safe as a fence that encompasses the pool area.
An automatic cover does provide a safe barrier when it is closed, but it is not the equivalent of a good fence because a cover can be left open. Automatic covers are expensive and require a fair amount of maintenance. However, they are wonderful for heat retention.
Pool alarms are rarely effective; I would not rely on them. Diving boards get a bad rap: I would argue a pool is safer with a diving board as it designates an area from which to dive. A correctly placed diving board on a correctly designed pool promotes safety. On the other hand, diving rocks are not safe. They typically protrude into the pool and present the risk of a swimmer hitting his head on the rock.
Anti-entrapment safety measures guard against the rare possibility of someone getting entrapped by the suction of a pump. To guard against entrapment, be sure all your suction ports have a good (if possible VGB compliant) cover.
Finally, kids should not stand on rafts in a pool or they may fall and hit the edge of the pool. Remember the lifeguard from your youth yelling “Don’t Run?” Well, it is true, running and pushing can be dangerous around a pool. Like many things, good common sense goes a long way toward a fun and safe pool.
Christopher Carthy is the principal of Pools Of Perfection in Armonk. He is a Certified Building Professional by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals. Pools of Perfection has rendered many thousands of service calls in the last 25 years and have built magnificent poolscapes in the Armonk and Chappaqua community. For more info, email: ccarthy@PoolsOfPerfection.com or call 914-273-SWIM (7946)