It is wise to update the safety features that protect you and your kids from the risks that having a backyard pool poses.
Fencing and Barriers
Just the presence of a fence is often enough to deter a child from attempting to access whatever lies behind it. For other children, it is viewed as a challenge that they make a personal goal to overcome. Finding a happy medium of a fence that provides visibility to the actual pool, while not creating an easily accessible jungle gym for your toddler can prove to be a challenge. For most smaller children, a 4” to 4 ½” fence is tall enough to prevent them from easily climbing over the top.
To ensure you are installing a fence that will truly prevent your kids from using their monkey like skills to get into the pool, make sure that the base of the fence doesn’t have any holes that can be used for foot placement to give them leverage to get to the top. The same goes for poles and frames that can be used for hand holds or flexible materials that can be used to gain momentum. Be strategic about your summer patio set up, and try to avoid placing furniture or other surmountable objects near the fencing that will enable your children to gain access.
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Child Safety Gates
In addition to placing a fence around the family pool, installing a child proof latch on the access gate will add another layer of defense in protecting them from a potential accident. Gates should swing open easily and close heavily to secure the latch without the aide of a human hand. This will ensure proper placement of the latch every time the gate is opened and left to close on its own. The gate should also open outward as an added safety measure.
There are many varieties of child proof latches available that are tricky for little hands to access. Consider purchasing one that requires both hands to open or a secret code that can be applied to it. For extra security measures, securing the pool area when not in use by placing a padlock on the latch will allow you to feel more secure about your children not being able to access the pool unattended.
In some cases, a fence is not the best option against safeguarding your children from unattended pool time. A well designed and correctly secured pool cover can be utilized to protect them from potential harm.
The ideal pool cover would be rigid in nature so that in the event your children climbs a top of it, it runs less risk of collapsing into the water. To aid your pool cover in remaining rigid, remove excess weight that may accumulate over time such as water, snow or leaves that may collect when the pool is not in use.
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Consider getting a supported cover that locks into place so that it cannot be easily removed by tiny hands. The ideal cover would cover the pool in all of its entirety so that no one runs the risk of getting caught underneath it. This also offers multiple points of contact that can have places to secure the lid with a latch or lock.
Alarms and Motion Alert
If you have a very active child that insists on taking unattended swims, installing a pool motion alert monitor or an alarm on your gate latch may be helpful in learning when the pool is being accessed. Some monitors are a light that beams across the pool and alerts you when there is a break in the beam when something (or someone) has entered the water. Other alarms are weight loaded and will trigger if anything over 15 pounds breaks the surface of the water.
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Keeping rescue devices near the pool, such as installing a poolside emergency phone, and removing any obstacles around the perimeter will help you in your journey to creating a safe pool environment in your backyard. Equip your younger children with swimming devices like a personal flotation device, water wings and floating tubes to help they stay afloat when in the pool. Make sure to remove all toys from the pool so that your children aren’t drawn back later to retrieve them.
The more that children learn and recognize safe behavior around the family pool, the safer the environment can be for them.