10 Pool Safety Guidelines for Compliance (and Your Peace of Mind)
The CDC reports that an average of 11 people drown every day in the U.S. Drowning is an obvious pool safety concern. But you should factor in other safety considerations as well.
1. Pool Safety Fence
Restricting access is one of the first things to put in place using a pool safety fence and gating.
The city of Austin requires specific pool safety guidelines that meet the Texas Health and Safety Code. Enclosing your pool helps to prevent terrible accidents, protecting kids especially.
Pool Safety Fencing Factors
- The ability for children to climb over it. Pay attention to the structure of the fence itself as well as things close to it. Nothing should aid a child in climbing over.
- A gate, and the auto-shutting mechanism of the gate, ensures it cannot be inadvertently left open.
2. Pool Entrapment
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act (P&SS) is a law that ultimately founded the Pool Safely campaign. It stems from the tragic death of seven-year-old Virginia. Trapped underwater by the powerful suction of a hot tub drain, she drowned.
Even strong swimmers can drown if they become entrapped underwater. Things that cause pool entrapment include items a swimmer could get snagged or caught on. And areas they can get sucked into, such as drains and suction points. A foot or hand, hair, jewelry, and even a bathing suit can get drawn in and trapped.
The Health and Safety Code defines what equipment to use. It explicitly addresses items like main drain covers (a major entrapment threat). One such device is a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS). Use it to reduce the risk of suction-related entrapment.
3. Pool Electrical Standards
The combination of electricity and water is a known hazard. When grounding a pool, bonding and GFI’s are critical components of electrical safety.
Pool lights are also a problematic area from a pool electrical safety perspective. Be sure to get your pool lighting inspected when you notice that a pool light is loose or not working correctly.
4. Pool Chemicals
Monitoring pool water chemistry is vital to ensure that the water is safe to swim in. But, the handling and storage of these chemicals is a safety concern.
Read labels to understand the risks and meet storage requirements. Be sure not to mix chemicals to avoid hazardous reactions, gases, and even explosions.
Avoid tripping hazards around the pool. Surfaces should be non-slip to reduce the risk of slip-and-fall injuries. Falls can be fatal, especially if someone hits their head and falls into the water.
Also, keep an eye on pool decks for mold and mildew, which can increase the risk of slipping.
Pool algae is also a common occurrence that can create slippery surfaces and drowning risks. While algae is generally not dangerous to people or animals, it's best to keep it under control to avoid risk of falling.
6. Water Temperature
Enjoy your hot tub in short spurts. Excessive exposure to hot water can lead to fatigue and ultimately collapse.
Do not heat Spas above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. And due to hot weather in the Austin area, limit time spent in the spa. Always supervise children.
Pool Safety Equipment
As defined by the Health and Safety Code, commercial pools must have specific safety equipment.
For instance, life hooks and ring buoys must be on-site at all times. There are also secondary items that should be part of a multi-layered safety approach. These include signage, access control, supervision, and responsive safety equipment.
7. Pool Heater
The pool heater is one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment related to swimming pools. It combines water, electricity, gas, heat, pressure, and also poisonous venting gases. For safety reasons, have your pool heater inspected by a professional once or twice a year.
Keep an eye on vegetation/leaves around the heater that could be a fire risk. Be aware of open windows in the vicinity of heaters. Waste gas could be drawn into your home or outbuildings. The Pool Safety Code (Section 265.193.) specifically covers heater venting.
8. Pool Filter
The pool filter typically handles pressures of up to 50 PSI (pounds per square inch). Even so, monitor it regularly. Excessive pressures should be a cause for alarm.
The pressure of 10 PSI above 'clean filter normal' is typically an indication that backwashing is necessary. But if the pressure does not return to the 'clean filter normal' for your filter, then an inspection is a good idea.
9. Pool Pump
Pool pump motors should be grounded, bonded, and connected through a GFI. Pool motors involve moving parts – some obvious, like the motor itself. But also secondary moving parts such as the impeller, which drives water.
When accessing or working on pool equipment, be sure to turn the system off. Then shut the power off to avoid electrical shock risk and contact with moving parts.
10. Additional Pool Safety Measures
- Adult Supervision:
When anyone is using the pool, adult supervision is a must. Even competent swimmers can get into trouble.
- Pool Alarms:
Pool alarms advance your access restriction strategy to add another layer of protection.
- Pool Covers:
Pool covers cannot be recommended strongly enough for small children. The right style of cover limits swimming pool access. It is not a drowning risk in itself and is something that a child can not remove without assistance.
- Code Compliance:
The key to pool access control is safety code compliance. The code also factors in the assessment of risks and multiple layers of protection. Then, it addresses an ongoing evaluation to maintain and maximize effectiveness.
- Regular Pool Maintenance:
It's important to keep a regular pool maintenance schedule in order to keep to pool safety standards, and protect against larger issues, like leaks. It will also keep your pool looking beautiful and clean for guests.
Pool Safety Code Compliance Evaluation
Swimming pools are all about fun and exercise – as long as you enjoy them safely! Ensure your pool has a built-in, multi-layered safety protection approach.
Contact YardDoc for an evaluation of your Pool Safety Code Compliance and improvements.
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