Summer is just around the corner! Spending time in the back yard in the swimming pool and with the grill going is a great way to enjoy time with friends and family. However, it’s important to blend fun with safety.
While the pool is a great place to have fun and relax, it is an unfortunate reality that drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children nationwide. Collapsing decks and open fire from grills and firepits are also other hazards that can be easily avoided with a few safety tips.
Fencing: Isolate the swimming pool with a minimum four-foot-high enclosure to temporarily close off a pool, spa, or hot tub not being used when children are visiting. Make sure it has a self-closing, self-latching gate.
Safety covers: Install an impenetrable casing that completely covers the pool, spa, or hot tub to prevent access to the water when there is no supervision. Make sure to cover portable hot tubs and padlock them.
Alarms: Get an alarm, which are available for doors, fences, and as a clip-on for children, to detect unwanted entrances to your pool, spa, or hot tub.
Rope and float lines: Place a rope or float line across the pool to let swimmers know where the deep end separates from the shallow end.
Rescue equipment: Locate equipment such as a life ring or shepherd’s hook near the pool in an easily accessible spot, and ensure they are kept in good condition. These can be used to pull someone to safety when in trouble.
Install drain covers: Suction entrapment is an unfortunate hazard in some swimming pool designs where circulation drains, which children like to play with, create a strong suction and hold a child or even a grown man underwater. Make sure drain covers are installed properly.
Posted emergency information: Post CPR information and warning signs, as well as the emergency telephone number — 911 — near the pool, spa, or hot tub.
Deck inspection: Every spring, have a professional Registered Remodelor or inspector check that your deck or balcony is in stable condition, particularly after a heavy winter of snow or rain. Look for termite or insect damage, decaying wood, and that all bolts and screws are tightened. Clean any leaves and mildew that can cause the surface to be slippery.
Railings and banisters: Rails should be at least 36 inches tall and spaced no more than 4 inches apart, so small children can’t squeeze through them. Any open space behind stair tread should also be no more than 4 inches wide. Banisters and rails should be secure.
Grills, firepits and outdoor fireplaces: Any open flames should be operated with close supervision. Never leave any unattended, including candles, and keep them away from flammable surfaces.
Outside telephone: Keep a cordless or poolside telephone nearby so you don’t leave children unattended while you answer the phone. It’s also a good idea to have one handy to summon help, if needed.
These are great ways to help ensure that your family remains safe while enjoying time in the backyard. It is important to remember, however, that these should not replace adult supervision. When children have access to any body of water, near an open flame or on a deck, a designated adult should always be alert and aware.