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Guide to Child Safety Around a Pool

Updated on July 24, 2013
Safety is always an issue while your kids are at play. Even in an area designed to  be completely safe, accidents can still happen.
Safety is always an issue while your kids are at play. Even in an area designed to be completely safe, accidents can still happen.

Whether you have a pool in your own backyard, or plan on spending a short weekend with your kids at a house that does, knowing what you have to do to make the entire experience as safe as possible will make you and your significant other a whole lot more relaxed and excited for the good times ahead. Any pool without a secure, child-safe fence can be very dangerous for the curious child. The following article will cover basic safety measures that you can take to ensure that children are safe while playing around or in the pool.

Just about anything can be a hazard to a child at play. Rocks, poles, gates, lawnmowers, fountains, furniture and just about anything else that might cut or bruise a running kid who happens to slip or doesn't look where he or she is going is potentially harmful, so you can't expect to completely eliminate all danger. Instead, setting aside certain areas of your home or backyard that are specifically tailored to minimize the chance of injury occurring while your children play will make it so that you always know where your kids are and you always know that they are as safe as they can possibly be.

By having a pool cover or pool fence installed, all of the dangers involved with an open body in your backyard can be entirely eliminated.
By having a pool cover or pool fence installed, all of the dangers involved with an open body in your backyard can be entirely eliminated.

Water Safety Around a Pool With Pool Fences and Covers

The ideal method towards preventing any sort of accident from happening around the pool is to install a secure fence that is at least five feet tall and maintain a vigil over children in the area. A secure pool fence should always cover the entirety of the pool, leaving no small area for anyone to slip through. You will also want to make sure that the material the fence is made of is very tightly woven and hard to climb. A standard metal pole fence will seem like more of an obstacle than a barricade to an eager kid, so you have to make sure that climbing it would be completely out of the question.

Another option are pool covers, which cover the entire length of the pool and are often times made of a material so strong that you can actually "walk on water" by running across the top of the covering. The only issue with pool covers is this: kids might have a hard time staying off of it, and while it might be completely safe, it'll still scare you half to death every time they do it.

Large objects or raised areas of land anywhere around the area you plan to have your fence installed will have to be removed as well, and you should make sure there is at least three feet of distance between the pool and the fence on all sides. There will obviously have to be a gate installed somewhere along the side of the fence, so the lock or latch system that you choose to install will also be of the utmost importance. Padlocks or any key lock attached to a solid latch will usually do fine, but there are also products sold designed to be completely childproof.

If you pay to have a pool fence professionally installed, the company that does it will usually be able to offer you a special, child-proof locking mechanism.

It should be noted that having a pool fence installed should not be used as a replacement for watching your kids, but simply a way to turn a not-so-safe backyard into a manageable and child friendly place, even a haven for children if you want to take it there. When it IS time to get into the pool, you'll have an awful lot of fun whipping out the special key or combination and letting all the kids into the fantastic pool.

Basic Swimming Pool Safety Tips

Setting Rules for Safe Pool Play

When the area around your pool has been certified safe for children to play around, the next thing you've got to do is set up a strict set of rules designed for the safety of everybody involved.

  • Any child that goes into the pool should have to check in with the designated pool guardian before getting in the pool and check out afterwards, and no child should be allowed to enter the pool if they can't find a pool guardian to let them in. This technique works great if you've got a locked pool fence, as you just have to give the keys only to the adults of the house and things will fall into place just fine.
  • Running around the pool should ALWAYS be prohibited. Even power walking can be dangerous, force your kids to walk in slow-motion until they learn not to run around the pool if you have to, as too easily will a kid forget the rule and start running along the edge of the poolin the heat of a game of Marco Polo or tag.
  • Every newcomer to the pool should be forced to wear floatation devices on their arms until they have passed a swimming test. You don't need to hire a professional lifeguard, you can simply set up the test yourself and make sure that the kid can handle themselves in the water before taking off their floatation devices. This is a great way to motivate children to learn to swim and ensure everyone is safe at the same time.
  • It is a good idea to show little to no leniency when dealing with pool rules. If a rule is broken, the child should not be allowed to go near the pool for at least a week, no exceptions. This might seem a bit harsh, and maybe worse than what you've done for things that seemed worse than running around the pool, but you'll be happy you did when you realize that your children are abiding all of the rules and you never have to deal with an accident poolside.

What Precautions do You Take to Ensure Your Children (and Their Friends) Are Safe When Playing in Your Pool or Backyard?

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You will always want to provide a soft surface for your children to run around on - slips and falls are extremely common during all stages of childhood and can easily be prevented this way.
You will always want to provide a soft surface for your children to run around on - slips and falls are extremely common during all stages of childhood and can easily be prevented this way.

Creating a Safe Outdoor Play Area Around the Pool and In the Rest of Your Yard

If you have a basic grass area in your backyard, or if you're planning to combine play structures and other additions to make an exciting area for kids to play, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure that the children can play for hours with only modest levels of supervision. The first thing you will want to do is ensure that whatever surface the children are traveling across is firm yet soft enough to absorb some amount of impact. Tarmac padding designed for children works great, but a good lawn of grass and dirt will usually be just fine.

Remove any adult tools or devices from the area entirely. You have to remember that kids will often incorporate just about any inanimate object into their games, so you don't want them to be playing with anything that might hurt them, even using a rake as a sword could turn into a disaster, so don't overlook anything.

Concrete edges that border your grassy area should be eliminated by raising the level of the dirt to one that is equal to the concrete.


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