Pool Safety

Pool Safety

A pool can come in every shape and size.  I would imagine you can remember your first pool.  I bet it was blown up by your parents and filled with ice cold hose water.  You did not care because you were three or four years old and it was hot outside and you needs to splash.  Move forward a few decades and you are in the back yard and it is still hot and you need to splash.  

The pools are still the same.  They are both filled with water.  The only difference might be the size and cost.  The biggest similarities are the risks and dangers.  While pools can be a great relief and offer tremendous amounts of fun they have inherent dangers.  There is the risk of drowning, traumatic injury, and the opportunity for slipping and falling.  

Drowning, by far, carries the most significant amount of risks and children are the most likely victims.  Between 2015 and 2017 6,400 children were treated for non-fatal drowning incidents.  During that same period of time 1,000 children lost their lives.  In 2017 drowning was the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14.  A parent or guardian cannot remove all of the risks but through careful consideration and diligent observations they can mitigate the risk.

The first opportunity to mitigate the risk is through having a proper barrier around the pool.  Keeping a child from accessing the pool when there is not enough or proper supervision is an excellent way to have a safe pool area.  There should be a barrier that completely protects the pool and the pool enclosure.  This could include a fence, gate or barrier wall.  The gate must open away form the pool and have a self closure and self latching mechanism.   An above ground pool located at least 42” from the ground does not require a fence so long as the ladder or stairs are removable or lockable.  If the above ground pool is less than 42 inches it can be enclosed with a barrier attached to the pool. 

These enclosures and barriers need to be inspected at least annually.  Wood can deteriorate.  Metal can fatigue and rust.  PVC and break down and fracture.  Gates and loosen and handles and locks can break.  Thoroughly reviewing the entire perimeter of the pool enclosure should be a part of your normal maintenance routine.

Once you have a handle and grasp on your barrier you can focus on traumatic injury protection.  This would be review and the various apparatus,gizmos and toys attached to the pool.  I am talking about slides, ladders, stairs, diving boards, skimmers, drains and jets.  A swimming pool is a tremendous investment.  For some this investment might be significant enough that there might be “staycations” for years.  Building that social and recreational environment that keeps you home only enhances your pool experience.   But, each of these features carries some risk and concern.

Falling and entrapment are leading causes for traumatic pool injury.  These injuries can also attribute to drowning but not all injuries cause drowning risks.  A slide is often installed over the pool deckhand ends up fluming into the pool with a monumental splash.  It is that splash that we are all looking for.  Some slides are build out of the features of the pool.  They might be rock or part of the landscaping but most are just metal structures fastened to the pool deck.  These metal structure fatigue and rust.  This can provide the opportunity for the slide to no longer be structurally sound and consequently safe.  A fall from six or eight feet above a concrete or solid pool deck can cause significant injury.

Diving boards and platforms can also be a lot of fun.  Working on your cannon ball or jack knife will also make a huge splash.  There is a great deal of science applied to determining the proper depths of pools.  The force of entering the water form various heights can determine how deep you will travel downward into the water.  The higher that platform the deeper the pool needs to be.  Some might not consider that when installing these features.  If you are strictly entering the water feet first you will hit the bottom of the pool with your feet.  The body damage will be lower and most likely none.  Buy, if you enter the water head first, there is an opportunity to have your head and neck impact the bottom of the pool.  This will increase to opportunity for cervical damage.   If a pool is going to have a diving board it must be at least 8 feet deep.

Diving boards and platforms can also fatigue.  Most diving boards are constructed of wood, fiberglass or composite materials.  Weather and exposure can cause these materials to eventually fail.  Like everything else around the pool, these too require inspection.  These inspections might actually need to be more frequent as heavy use can also cause failure.

Older pool construction used surface installed or flat bottom drains.  The drain is the how water cycles back through the filters, pumps and mechanical equipment.  These flat drains can also be a source of fun for a child.  You want to swim down to the bottom and play with the suction.  If the drain is smaller than the child and the child blocks the entire opening the suction can entrap the child on the drain grate.  This can cause drowning or suction injury. Modern installation standards require drains to no longer be flush and now raised.  The raising of the drain helps prevent most of the entrapment risk. 

Other areas of entrapment include skimmers, ladders, stairs and installed features.  There needs to be the ability to have complete and constant view of everyone in the pool at all times.  This is the easiest way to maintain a safe environment.  It is when the child is out of sight that the dangers start to grow.  If you are the parent or guardian incharge of pool safety you have to position yourself to be able to watch everyone in the pool.

Water is refreshing but is also very slippery.  It is impossible to get out of a pool dry and when you are dripping across the pool deck you are creating a slip and fall risk to everyone in and around the pool.  This is why most pool decks have some form of texture.  A smooth surface be as slippery as walking on ice.  Additionally, most people do not have footwear on while swimming.  Footwear can not only help with traction but can prevent your feet from abrasion or injury.  A trip hazard is any one inch raised surface but, it does not take much to stub a toe or cut your foot.  Inspecting and monitoring your pool surface for those injury points is key to safety.  This would include looking for slip or damaged wood, damaged or split brick or concrete and cracking.  

Pools can provide hours or enjoyment and social interaction but do have inherent risks.  Most of the risks can be managed through good custodial ownership and maintenance.  It is important to periodically have your pool inspected. Sometimes it takes a different set of eyes to keep everyone safe.  Contact us to have your The BrickKicker help you with these important tasks.  

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