There are many products that can be added to your backyard pool area when considering pool safety. Whether you are protecting your young children, older adults or even your pets, keeping your backyard up to date with the latest safety features is of the utmost importance. Here are a few products that you may want to consider:
Pool fences are one of the more common ways to ensure safety and are usually gate-locked and childproof. Many pool fences are designed for ease of use and restrict the occurrence of broken or sticking hinges and mechanisms. Alternatively, a temporary and removable pool fence can also be used to be set up only whenever children visit the household; though, a more permanent fence is recommended.
Four-sided Isolation Fences
A four-sided isolation fence is the best barrier as it completely surrounds the pool or spa. It is different from a property line or “perimeter” fence that keeps neighbors’ children from accessing your pool. Isolation fencing separates swimming pools or spas from the house. They are specially designed so that children cannot easily get over, under, or through them. Code compliant pool fences can be built from many different materials, but some are better suited to the task than others.
Aluminum is a lightweight, low maintenance fencing material that is an excellent choice for pool fencing because of its physical attributes; it is strong and will not rust.
Steel is a sturdy fencing material that is a popular option for pool fencing. The look and feel of steel fencing closely matches that of aluminum, but it is heavier and stronger. When choosing steel fencing, make sure to choose a product with a high quality coating that will protect your fence from rust.
Wood can be used to make a secure pool fence in either picket style or privacy style. Wood is relatively inexpensive when compared to aluminum, composite, and steel fencing. However, wood is higher maintenance than other materials, requiring periodic painting or staining.
Composite fences feature the look and feel of natural wood but without the maintenance. A premium fence material, composites not only offer protection, but can enhance the visual appeal of your property. Composite fences are a component system created from boards, rails, and posts, so they can be designed to meet local and national pool codes.
Chain Link Fences
Chain Link is an extremely affordable, low maintenance fence material. Made from galvanized steel tubing and a mesh of steel wire, chain link is strong, durable, and secure. Chain link can also be an effective privacy fence with the addition of privacy slats. One drawback of chain link fence is its industrial look and feel, which may be an issue if you are looking for a pool fence that also adds to the visual appeal of your property.
Vinyl is an attractive, low maintenance fencing material that comes in a wide variety of styles and colors. Slightly more expensive than wood, vinyl fence eliminates the need for staining and painting, and has a long life span.
Perimeter fencing encloses a backyard pool but allows ready access through the house. It reduces drowning risk for children by 17 percent or less. It is better than no fencing for risk reduction, but children usually have no problem letting themselves into a backyard from the house interior. If you choose to install perimeter fencing, you should also have an alarm on the door in case a small child gains access to the pool area without adult supervision.
Removable Pool Fencing
Removable Pool Fencing is a popular choice of many pool owners. This fence, made of mesh material, is left in place when there is a possibility of access to the swimming pool by young children, but removed when adults are present or for parties. It can be rolled up and stored away during occasions when a barrier is not needed. This mesh fencing has a “transparent” nature allowing you to have a clear view of the pool at all times. The only drawback to having this type of fencing is that it does not meet compliance codes for backyard safety in all areas. A pool professional can provide information for your specific area.
Pool Safety Nets
Pool safety nets provide a safe, secure barrier while maximizing the available backyard space and preserving the view and ambience of the swimming pool area.
The size of the net's squares are the foundation of its safety pontential. The squares are small enough that children can't fall through, but too big to walk or stand on. One adult can remove or replace a typical swimming pool net in just a few minutes. A series of pulleys is built into the center of the pool net. By loosening the pulley rope, the tension is released and the pool net is easily removed. Just unhook the clips and roll the pool net onto the portable roller. Simply reverse this process to place the pool net back onto the pool. The safety pool net utilizes custom hooks and flush brass anchors in the deck to secure the net.
As with all safety barriers the net is only to be used as deterrent and the child should never be left alone near the pool.
Swimming pool nets provide an excellent barrier for small or confined areas. Finding a cover for uniquely shaped pools with rocks, waterfalls, raised planters, etc, can often be prohibitive, but they usually pose no problem for pool nets.
A swimming pool net has several advantages over pool fences. Children cannot climb over or under a net pool cover like they may be able to with some fences. If unwanted pool entry by older children who may be able to gain access even though a fence is in place is a concern, a pool net can be a viable solution. A swimming pool net can be removed in about 5 minutes and replaced in 5 to 10 minutes.
Safety Pool Covers
One of the most crucial safety devices that a pool owner should have is a safety pool cover. Note that a winter pool cover and solar pool covers are NOT safety covers. To be a safety pool cover, it is required that a pool cover be able to hold a minimum of 485 pounds per five square feet. Safety covers come in two varieties – mesh and solid. Both types of safety covers are anchored to a deck with straps that pull the cover taut over the pool; the straps usually attach to stainless steel springs and are anchored to recessed brackets in a deck surface. When the cover is removed, deck brackets that are not already flush with the deck can be screwed down to prevent tripping or toe-stubbing. Because the straps need to be anchored down, mesh covers generally require at least two to three feet of decking all around the pool. There are a variety of deck anchors for all types of decking material including, but not limited to, concrete, brick, asphalt, earth, and wood.
Mesh Safety Pool Covers
Mesh safety pool covers are designed for long-term use, such as when closing swimming pools for winter. Mesh safety pool covers require little maintenance because debris that lands on them blows off the top, and rain and snow drain through the mesh panels; however, with the screen-like material of mesh, some silt and dirt may get through the webbing. On the other hand, because puddles cannot accumulate on the surface, having a mesh-style safety pool cover eliminates the risk of toddlers or pets unexpectedly coming in contact with shallow water.
Solid safety pool covers
Solid safety pool covers work similarly to mesh covers in that they can be secured to a deck by anchors. Solid safety pool covers may not be best for use in areas that receive heavy rain or snowfall. Unlike mesh covers that allow water to drain through the cover, precipitation can accumulate on a solid cover, creating a puddle of water over the pool. The collected water may tend to sag the cover and present a hazard to any small children or pets who, if unsupervised, wander onto to pool cover. To combat this problem, some manufacturers incorporate drain panels into solid vinyl covers. Small cover pumps that automatically pump water off the cover as soon as it is detected may also be used.
There are many different types of pool alarms to consider depending on your budget, type of pool, and technical requirements. Remember that pool alarms are one tool that will help to make your swimming area safer. Parental guidance and vigilance are primary in ensuring pool safety.
Gate alarms are mounted directly on your pool’s gate with two magnetic switches. These alarms, which are battery powered, activate when the gate is opened and the electrical field is broken. There is an override button that can be pressed by an adult to allow them to pass through without sounding the alarm. Gate alarms are designed for outdoor use, come in many different sizes, are inexpensive, and easy to install.
Door alarms are designed for swimming pools that include the house in some part of their entire perimeter. When the door is opened an audible alarm sounds. These alarms, which are turned on and off using a key or a keypad, are either battery powered or use the home’s current. They are affordable; easy to install, and provide a warning if the door is opened. They are also useful in detecting intruders.
As with door alarms, window alarms are used if the house is included in some part of or in the entire perimeter of the pool. When the window is opened, an audible alarm sounds. These alarms, which are turned on and off using a key or a keypad, are either battery powered or use the home’s current. They are affordable, easy to install, and provide a warning if the window is opened.
Perimeter alarms use laser or infrared light, forming an unbroken beam of light around the swimming pool’s perimeter. When someone entering the perimeter breaks the beam, the alarm sounds. Alarm beams are positioned 12 to 24 inches above ground level and should be adjusted according to your child’s height. These devices, which are the most expensive on the market, give total perimeter protection at a set height. Disadvantages are that the set height may not suit visiting children and that the alarm will activate if one of the pool’s perimeter alarms is inadvertently hit, moved, or covered.
Wrist alarms are the latest in water safety. They may be used at the pool or even in a boat. These waterproof devices are key locked securely onto your child’s wrist and communicate via a base station. When the wrist alarm is immersed in water the station alarm is activated. Base units and wrist alarms are purchased separately, which means you may have numerous wrist alarms for one base station.
Floating/wave sensors are mounted on the edge of the pool or in the pool. They are key activated, battery powered, and portable. Generally these alarms sense water displacement when an object weighing more than fifteen pounds enters the pool. When this occurs, a signal is sent to a remote receiver which is either in the home or carried by the adult. The receiver emits an alarm of approximately 85 decibels. These alarms can be used with pool covers or solar blankets and have an adjustment that can reduce their sensitivity.
Fence/wall Mounted Passive Infrared Motion Detectors
Fence/wall mounted passive infrared motion detectors are an all weather-designed system and may be mounted on a pool fence or wall. They can also be installed in a spa, patio, or garage. They protect an 8-yard semi circular area by emitting a 110-decibel alarm that can be heard up to 50 yards away. These alarms, which are most effective when mounted on a pool fence or wall, are armed one minute after being switched on and possess a 5 second entry delay feature which prevents the device from going off immediately after it’s been activated. Unique features include both a movement and heat sensitive sensor that can only be activated by a small child or animal when performing movements and emitting body heat within its patrol range.
Pool Mounted Passive Infrared Motion Detectors
Pool mounted passive infrared motion detectors combine all of the important features found in other devices and are very affordable. Each unit simultaneously detects both motion and heat of anyone passing by and will not give any false readings for inanimate objects. With this device, a perimeter fence is not an integral part of the system as it is with most other systems. This key operated unit runs on batteries or a DC power adapter and has a 24-hour warning signal for low battery power. With a 110-decibel micro siren this is also the loudest alarm on the market and can be heard 50-yards away. These alarms cover an 8.5-yard radius and a 150-degree area.
Above Ground Pool Alarms
Above Ground Pool Alarms use a new sensing method that requires no adjustments and is designed to detect intrusions similar to a 1- year old child weighing 18 pounds and up. The alarm is activated with an on/off key - simply remove the key to turn the alarm on. Entry into the pool by children, pets, or intruders is detected by the unit's electronic sensor, and sets off a loud, pulsating alarm both in the home and at the pool. The in-house remote receiver has a range up to 200 ft., and comes with a 12-volt power supply. Safe, simple, and easy to operate, the alarm snaps onto the top rail of your above ground pool. To store your alarm while using the pool, snap it on the outside of the pool.
Suction entrapment can occur when a swimmer gets pulled down by the suction of a pool or hot tub drain. If this happens, the victim can get their hair, limbs, or other body parts trapped and pulled toward the drain. The enactment of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act resulted over concern in a rise in serious injuries and drowning deaths by being entrapped by the suction of swimming pool drains and spas. Tragically, the Act is named after the seven year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, who died when she became entrapped by a hot tub drain’s suction.
A Safety Vacuum Release System — or SVRS for short — is an automatic suction force release system. When a drain becomes blocked, the SVRS provides a rapid vacuum release. This quickly frees anyone whose body or limb is trapped on the drain. An SVRS works whether or not there is a cover on the drain, and does not interfere with the pump function. Once installed, an SVRS requires little or no maintenance. It is recommended to have a pool professional install the SVRS.
A pool safety drain cover works to prevent the powerful suction of a pool drain from making a complete seal that could trap a person's body against the drain, or entangle hair, possibly resulting in drowning. Safety drains cover the main drain of a pool, which is the suction outlet at the bottom or side of a pool that conducts water to a recirculating pump. All pools are now required to be compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and hot tub Safety Act, which became effective on December 19, 2008. The law is designed to improve child safety by requiring that all pools and spas have drain covers compliant with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and American National Standards Institute. To meet the requirements of the new federal law, a main drain should now have a cover, a mounting frame, a sump (the small pit below the drain that receives drainage and channels it to the outlet pipe) and fasteners to make sure the drain cover is attached securely to the sump.
General Pool Safety Products
With the right swimming pool safety products, you can reduce the risks and dangers inherent to swimming pools and, at the same time, make your pool environment a more enjoyable place for everyone.
- Swimming pool and hot tub hand rails and stair rails provide an extra protection against slipping on stairs and steps.
- Pool signs and depth markers are also extremely important to have in the pool area. These pool depth markers can be applied to vinyl, ceramic tile and tempered glass overlays. Signs that should be in your pool area can include “No Jumping”, “No Diving, Shallow Water” and “Slippery When Wet”.
- You should also have basic safety equipment available such as lifesaver rings and a Shepherd’s Crook.