A Fresh Look at Pool Safety

Put pool safety first, then enjoy your summer.

There’s nothing like that first splash into the pool in the hot summer sun. But opening your pool isn’t quite as easy as uncovering it and jumping in. Taking all the safety precautions you can—from making sure it’s a physically safe area for children to ensuring the water is chemically safe for any swimmer—are crucial first steps for a summer of fun in the pool.

Before you open your pool

Experts recommend that the first step pool owners take at the beginning of the season is to clean off any leaves or debris from the swimming pool cover before removing it, and pump off any standing water if you have a solid cover. Avoid emptying your pool, unless you must do structural work or your pool hasn’t been covered and is filled with so much debris it needs an overhaul. Emptying a pool that sits in a high water table can actually cause it to pop right out of the ground!

Do, however, top off the pool’s water level, cleaning out the filter before you turn it on. Have your water professionally tested, either by a mobile swimming pool maintenance company, or by taking a water sample to a pool store that will test its mineral content, along with its alkalinity, pH and chlorine levels. Professionals will recommend how to adjust the chemical balance—or perform the service at your home.

Once your pool chemicals are in line, wait until the water is clear—sometimes up to a week—before diving in. Experts recommend maintaining your pool throughout the summer by keeping the filter clean, vacuuming it each week, testing the chemicals regularly, and getting it serviced by a professional once a month.

While it’s important for your pool to be free of chemical imbalances and debris, it’s also critical that the entire pool environment is safe—or your pool is more of a liability than a fun zone.

Top pool safety tips

Here’s some time-tested advice (some of which may be legally required in your state) from the American Red Cross:

  • Install barriers around your pool and/or hot tub, adding safety covers and pool alarms as layers of protection. Make sure that the barriers enclose the entire area and are at least 4 feet high with self-closing, self-latching, outward-opening gates.
  • Remove access ladders to aboveground or inflatable pools when not in use, and clear away structures that children could climb on for access like outdoor furniture, decorative walls and playground equipment.
  • Keep toys that aren’t in use away from the pool and out of sight, since they can attract young children to the pool.
  • Always actively supervise children whenever they’re around the water, even if lifeguards are present, and avoid distractions (like your cell phone) when supervising them around water. Only a few minutes can make a huge difference.

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