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5 Essential Pool Safety Tips

Swimming pool.

After a winter of hibernation, it’s time to slather on the sunscreen, grab the floating toys and open up the pool. Before you dive in, however, take a few minutes to refresh your pool safety knowledge.

Setting up appropriate safety barriers, enforcing rules, and keeping children supervised at all times can help reduce the risk of accidents. These are some safety tips to help your loved ones safely enjoy the pool all summer long.

1. Install appropriate pool barriers. An effective pool barrier will prevent a child from going under, over or through the barrier unless a supervising adult is present. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) guidelines recommend the pool barrier be at least 48 inches above grade, as measured on the side of the barrier that faces away from the pool. Some municipalities require barriers to be at least 60 inches. Metal fencing, chain link fences, diagonal latticework and wooden fencing can all serve as appropriate barriers as long as they meet CPSC spacing guidelines.

2. Reduce the risk of children going underneath a barrier. As adults, it’s easy to focus on the barrier’s height and forget that clearance under the barrier matters, too. To prevent children from going underneath the barrier, pool barriers should have a maximum bottom clearance not to exceed four inches above the surface of the ground. If the ground is a non-solid surface like grass, CPSC recommends reducing this bottom clearance to not exceed two inches.

3. Alarm doors. Depending on your home’s layout, your home may serve as the fourth side of a fence around the pool. You may have a door off your family room, mudroom, or another part of the home that grants direct access to the swimming pool. If this is the case, all doors that grant access to the swimming pool should be equipped with an audible alarm that sounds any time the door is opened. CSPC guidelines recommend the alarm sound within seven seconds of the door’s opening and last for at least 30 seconds. The alarm should be set to at least 85 decibels, allowing it to be heard from up to 10 feet away. Self-closing doors with self-latching devices can add an extra layer of safety to these doors.

4. Don’t overlook the danger of portable pools. If your home does not have a below ground pool, a portable, above-ground pool is one option for staying cool in the summer heat. Portable pools vary greatly in size and height, ranging from small wading pools to large pools holding thousands of gallons of water. If possible, fence, cover or empty a portable pool when not in use. Warn neighbors and caregivers about the presence of the pool and existing barriers.

5. Establish and enforce pool rules. Never leave a child unattended around a pool, hot tub or any body of water. Ensure everyone knows the location of life-saving equipment, including ring, floats and a reaching pole, and ensure this equipment is easily accessible. Children should be enrolled in swimming classes and adults should be CPR-certified.

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in the home for children under the age of five. Taking steps to reduce the risk of drowning will not only save lives but also reduce your liability exposure in the event of an accident. Talk to your insurance agent about policy coverage options.

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