If you live in the desert, owning a pool is not only a luxury, but almost a necessity. After all, what else are your kids going to do throughout the blazing hot summer months? They can either stay inside and play video games or go out and get some exercise!
When I do a pool inspections, of course I will operate the pumps, check the condition of the pool and equipment and make recommendations for repairs….all that stuff….. But a substantial part of the pool inspection will address safety issues. Those of you who know my inspection style know I don’t get too worked up over home defects. There are not many defects in a home that cannot be fixed. But there are some things cannot be fixed…like losing a child. That’s a sobering statement, but it is true.
Many of my clients purchasing a home with a pool are parents with young children. As a father of two wonderful young, busy, climbing, exploring, exhausting boys, I see the pool through the eyes of a safety minded parent. And if you know me, you know I’m the eagle eye parent who never takes his eyes off his kids. The problem is, a drowning can happen in a flash. Literally. Most pool drowning victims are between the ages of 1-3 and under 5 years of age, had been missing for only five or less minutes and were in the presence of their parents.
There is no substitute for active parental supervision. But those of us who have kids know the late night feedings, busy work and family schedules, long hours and exhaustion can all add up to nodding off even while you are watching your children. It happens. Do you want to be asleep while your 3 year old inquisitive, active explorer is up wandering around with access to a large, deep body of water? I wouldn’t leave the bathroom with my child in the bath tub until just recently…he is almost 5 now!
What if you are hosting a pool bar-b-que or gathering? You’re cooking, running around, socializing with your friends and family…..it is very easy to lose track of your child or assume that your spouse is watching.
Fortunately there are many things you can do to improve the safety of your pool. Again, there is absolutely no substitute for actively watching your children, but you should also have a plan B, plan C or more in place.
-First, understand that when we are talking about pool safety, we are also including spa safety and hot tub safety. Any large, deep body of water can be dangerous and should be safe guarded.
-Have your children complete swimming lessons. There are programs even for infants and toddlers to help them learn to swim and survive a fall into a pool long enough for help to arrive.
-Any access points to the pool area should be armed with pool alarms. By access points, I’m referring to doors AND windows that open with a height of 48 inches or less. Small children can open these windows and find their way into the pool area. And by pool alarms, I’m referring to the special pool alarms you can purchase at your local pool supply store. The chime on your home security system is not adequate. Will it wake you up when you are on the other side of the house and the door or window to the pool area is opened? These alarms are meant to be loud and obnoxious and will operate for at least 30 seconds when activated-hopefully long enough to get your attention if you fall asleep or are in the laundry room with the loud machines operating, etc.
-If you have a pet door, have it covered over and sealed. Period. I can’t stress this enough. On inspections, many of my clients have relayed to me horror stories of close friends or family members who lost a toddler that wandered through the pet door into the pool area. You can get up off the couch and go let Fido out. And while you are up, go out and play with your dog. He needs the exercise and you probably do too.
-In addition to arming the doors and windows with pool alarms, you can install latches on them up high where a child cannot reach them. And make sure to account for chairs, couches and any flat climbing surfaces. Children will find and use these in a second.
-Consider investing in a secondary pool barrier (a fence around the pool area). By proper, these fences should follow the proper code that is designed to keep children from entering the pool area-above, between or below the fence.
-Make sure you pool area is compliant to the local pool codes particularly in regards to pool barriers, gates, etc. and go above and beyond whenever possible. Remember, these codes are in place in an attempt to prevent drownings but they are a bare minimum of what you can do to safe guard your pool. Our Southern Nevada pool code can be found here: Click Here
-Have some basic pool safety equipment available at your pool. Some possible items to have on hand are Life Hooks, Rescue Cans, Tubes and Bouys-devices that can be used to help maneuver accident victims from the pool. And always have an appropriate first aid kit on hand. There are many, many options that can be found at your local pool supply store or online.
-Lastly, if you are a grandparent, you need to be EVEN MORE VIGILANT! The children will come to visit only once in a while. They are not as familiar with your property, it is probably not as “child proofed” as their own home is and you, YES YOU, are not as skilled at watching the children as the parents. I know, I know…you raised your children and they turned out great, but just admit that you’re a little rusty and let’s leave it at that. You may also find that now that you own a pool, lots of your friends have children and grandchildren and would love to come by and socialize with you while their kids are cooling off.
It is important to note that these tips are not meant to be all inclusive but rather I hope it will encourage you to improve the safeguards in your pool area. There are some many wonderful reasons to own and enjoy a pool and spa, but please respect the dangers that do exist particularly when children are present.
Feel free to leave comments and suggestions for additional child safety items. They would be very welcome by all.
Kevin Zamarripa is a Home Inspector in the Las Vegas area and owner of the local Pillar To Post Franchise.
You can contact Kevin Zamarripa at: