A backyard pool can be a wonderful summer oasis. Swimming immediately refreshes people on hot, humid days, and even provides thorough exercise that works many different muscles in the body. And summer revelers know that swimming and wading in the pool is a fun activity for people of all ages.
Although swimming pools are great summer spaces, one of the downsides of using the pool is the risk of drowning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year in the United States there are an estimated 3,960 fatal unintentional drownings, an average of 11 drowning deaths per day. Additionally, approximately 8,080 non-fatal drownings occur. It is important to note that many of these incidents are not related to pool use, as boating and even bathing accidents also contribute to drowning. But a 2020 review of 2,213 accidental immersion deaths and other water-related deaths in Canada by the Canadian Red Cross found that immersion deaths were more likely to occur while swimming and wading. Children between the ages of one and four, men and people with seizure disorders or other medical conditions like autism are among those at higher risk of drowning.
Swimming pools are fun, but it’s a big responsibility to keep all swimmers safe. Here are some pool safety measures to implement.
• Keep the water hygienic. Make sure pool water is chemically balanced so it is comfortable to swim in and does not harbor any pathogens that can make swimmers sick. Pool equipment company Pahlen says the ideal water pH is 7.4 because it is the same as the pH of human eyes and mucous membranes, and it also promotes good chlorine disinfection. The free chlorine content of a swimming pool can vary from 0.5 to 1.6 to keep it hygienic. A quality test kit can help pool owners balance the water.
• Learn your local ordinances. Local ordinances will specify what precautionary measures are required by law for people who have a backyard pool. These often include a fenced yard, fencing around in-ground pools at least four feet high, self-locking gates, and/or pool ladders that can be locked or closed when the pool is not in use. .
• Rely on non-slip surfaces. The pool environment can be wet and slippery. Using materials such as non-slip decking surfaces or rougher concrete finishes around swimming pools can help reduce some slips and falls. The Poolonomics swimming pool resource says people should be advised to avoid running near or around the pool.
• Inspect water returns and drains. PoolSafety.gov warns that hair, limbs, jewelry, or swimwear can get stuck in a drain or suction opening in a pool or spa. Broken or missing drain covers should be replaced immediately and no swimming should take place until the problem is resolved.
• Install other barriers. Pool gates, alarms and covers can save lives and prevent access to pool water when the pool is not in use.
• Learn to swim and practice CPR. Families can take swimming lessons to become better swimmers. Learning to perform CPR on adults and children can save lives. Classes are available at many hospitals and community centers or through the Red Cross.
Swimming pools are welcome additions to courses. Safety is vital around water.