Whether it’s a cosy hot tub, a full-sized pool or something in between, having a private place to take a dip at home is one of life’s greatest luxuries. There is little that compares to shrugging off the day’s troubles with a few relaxing laps or a good book and the gentle massage of jacuzzi jets at your back.
The drawback of having a pool is that it doesn’t take much to turn your oasis into a serious health hazard. Between the obvious perils associated with water and hidden risks like waterborne bacteria, keeping your pool safe to use requires discipline and education.
Here are some of the most important safety tips for making sure your family and friends act responsibly around the pool, and establish good habits. If you need more information about water control and cleaning, take a look at the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG), for helpful guides.
It doesn’t matter if your pool is intended to be an opulent centrepiece for your garden, or a haven for the kids to splash around in - there are few design features which you should be including to improve its safety.
Firstly, make sure the depth of the pool is clearly marked around its edge. The distortive effect of water can make it exceptionally difficult to judge the depth of an unknown pool, so an indication of how deep – or shallow – the water is will help to keep children and visitors safe. You may also want to use coloured tiles or signage to show the deepest and shallowest parts of the pool to make it particularly obvious for younger children.
If your pool or tub is an in-ground design, or you have raised decking around its edge, use non-slip materials and coatings to provide grip to anyone walking around its perimeter. Keep the floor clean and well-maintained so that bathers don’t slip on leaves or trip on uneven tiles.
Look for a SPATA certified pool installer, like Compass Pools, to make sure you’re using a supplier that you can trust to complete your pool to the highest safety standards.
It’s strongly recommended that you invest in a solid lid or cover for your pool. Not only will this reduce the risk of accidents, but it will help to keep your pool clean and can even contribute to keeping your water warm. Keep the cover securely closed when the pool is not in use, and even if it’s strong enough to stand on you should discourage people, particularly children, and pets from doing so unnecessarily.
Fencing the pool area off is another excellent way of keeping those using your garden safe, even if you live somewhere that does not enforce strict laws about doing so. Fences should be tall enough that they cannot be easily climbed over, without gaps that could be squeezed through by a child or animal, and entry should be via a lockable gate. Check your local legislation before choosing a fence as you may find there are further legal requirements in your area.
We all know that less than two inches of water can be fatal, so it’s important that no matter the size of your pool, spa or hot tub, you don’t get complacent. Familiarise yourself with CPR, and ensure that any other adults that may be supervising the pool are comfortable with the procedure.
For full-sized pools, it’s’ also worth investing in some basic safety equipment, like a floatation aid. Shepherd’s hooks are useful too, as they can be used to snare floating objects out of the pool, as well as in life-saving situations. Store these items close to your pool – they won’t be much use in the garage.
Of course your swimming pool, plunge pool or hot tub should be used for fun. However, failing to set any kind of rules can lead to some serious safety risks.
For example, while it may be tempting to grab a cold one and take a plunge, alcohol and swimming do not mix. It takes meticulous cleaning to remove glass shards from a pool, plus the warmth of your hot tub and tipple-induced drowsiness can be a dangerous mix.
Don’t ever leave children unattended while they play in or near water, and be strict about a no-running policy around its edges. It’s also wise to limit the number of toys and inflatables allowed in the water at a given time; too many distractions can make it hard to spot when weaker swimmers are struggling.
Establishing swimming pool rules may seem like a bore, but making sure that your family and guests stick to the simple safety requirements will ensure your swim session stay fun.
Finally, at the end of your session make sure you pick up everything lying in and around the water, and always cover the pool back up. Too many accidents happen when people, infants and pets try to retrieve litter or a toy from the edge of the pool, and then lose their balance. Be tidy; be safe.