Depending on where you live, there may be laws regarding the safety measures you need to follow when you have a pool or hot tub in your yard. You should check the regulations for your area both before you install a pool and periodically afterward to make sure you stay within the criteria. Small inflatable pools might have these regulations enforced as well, so please be aware. Failure to comply with regulations could leave you liable for any injuries or drownings that occur on your property, whether you were present at the time or not.
Of course, if your area does include small wading and baby pools, you can easily avoid any issues by emptying the pool when it is not in use. Since these types of pools don’t have a filter anyway, this is a good habit to get into regardless of safety issues.
Here are just a few of the typical rules required for above- and in- ground pools and hot tub/jacuzzi owners. I’ve also added other tips to ensure that children (and adults) aren’t tempted to take a dip in your pool without your knowledge and ensure the safety of all:
- Have the adults and children age 9 and above in your home learn basic CPR skills and how to swim.
- If you can, prevent the pool or hot tub from being visible from the street, either with privacy fencing or landscaping. When it is not obvious that there even is a pool, you will be less likely to have unwanted guests.
- Keep hot tubs covered. Pool covers are also good, although be aware that children have been known to try walking on them, then get trapped and drown.
- Have a separate gate for your pool or hot tub. Keep it locked. An alarm that sounds when the gate is opened or a motion detector are also good deterrents. Some places mandate how tall the fence has to be; your best bet is to ensure that the fence is hard to climb. Don’t leave things near the fence that can be used to assist someone in getting over the fence. That includes landscaping like shrubs or trees, birdbaths, large planters, debris, trash cans, or statuary.
- Keep the doors and windows that provide access from your home to the pool area locked as well. A child could sneak out the door and be in the water long before you realize what is happening.
- Have a storage container for pool toys and floating items, and put them away when they are not in use. It is one less thing attracting someone to the water.
- If you have shallow water, please post “No Diving” signs. If there is a deep end, make sure that there is a marker so that people know where the depth begins to change. Ensure that the depth is clearly marked where swimmers can see it.
- Teach children to stay away from jets and filters. The suction in hot tubs especially can catch a child’s hair or bathing suit and pull them underwater.
- Also teach children good water safety—don’t ever go swimming without an adult present, don’t run near the water, don’t swim in the rain or during thunderstorms. Remind adults not to mix alcohol and swimming, and to keep electrical devices away from the pool. Avoid swimming when you’re tired or not feeling well.
- Provide lifejackets for those who cannot swim, or do not let them into the water. Have a safety pole or life preserver handy to help anyone who may need assistance. A built-in ladder will also help those who need it.
- Lastly, install non-slick surfaces around the pool or hot tub and along the path to them. Even if you tell everyone not to run, they can still slip and fall if the area is wet and they lose their balance.
These precautions are just basic tips, so be sure to read what is required of you by your homeowner’s association as well as your town/city/state government. Following everything, even to the letter, can’t prevent all injuries, but it will go a long way toward eliminating most problems before they have a chance to take place.