Each year, there are hundreds of swimming pool related injuries and deaths caused from improperly designed or maintained pools and equipment. Here are some guidelines that I hope will help in keeping you and your family safe this summer.
Safety barriers. Designed to keep small children from entering the pool area, safety fences and gates need to be installed to certain specifications. The fencing surrounding the pool access area needs to be at least 48 inches in height, any horizontal members should be on the pool side of the fence, vertical members should not exceed 1-3/4 inches apart and all openings should be small enough so that a 4-inch diameter sphere cannot pass through.
The gates to the barrier needs open out away from the pool and have a self closing and self latching mechanism. If the gate latch mechanism is less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate, then it needs to be installed at the top on the gate on the side facing the pool.
Drain covers. Pool drains can have a very strong suction and there have been cases of drownings and children being disemboweled from being caught in the pool's drain. The suction of the drain can be powerful enough to have hair caught in the drain and have backs and stomachs held down when covering the drain. There have also been reports of children sitting on the drain and having their intestines pulled out of their rectum. To avoid this, install an anti-vortex drain cover. An anti-vortex drain cover is designed to distribute the intake water in the sides as well as the top to lessen the pressure at any one given area in the cover. It is also dome shaped instead of flat so that a person's back, stomach and buttocks has more difficulty covering the entire drain cover.
Deck and coping. Inspect all walking surfaces around the pool to ensure that there are no sharp edges and protrusions to the decking, coping and plastic decking drain channels that may cause foot and toe injury.
Diving boards and slides. Diving boards and slides are dangerous by nature and are advised against in the first place. If you still want to have these, inspect them regularly to make sure that they do not have cracks in the board and slide surfaces and that the bolts and any hardware are not rusted and deteriorated. Always keep any exposed nuts and bolts painted with a rust inhibitor paint to prevent rust from forming.
Pool light protection. Pool light electrical circuits need to be protected with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) device. These are the electrical outlets you may have seen in kitchen and bathrooms that have the test and reset button. GFCI protection can also be a breaker in the breaker box that controls the pool light circuit. The GFCI protection is designed to trip the electrical power to the light in case the pool light gets broke or develops a water leak and to avoid an electrical shock. If you know where the GFCI is located, be sure to periodically test the device by pressing the test button to ensure that it is operating correctly and if you can't locate it or do not have one, consult an electrician.
For more detained information on pool safety barriers, go to my website at: http://www.fortworthinspector.com/Pool_safety.html
And for pool drain cover dangers, go to: http://www.fortworthinspector.com/Swimming_Pool_Drain_Dangers.html