In the back of their minds, all swimming pool owners know the risk of having a silent, lurking body of water in the back yard. Even more so for families with children, a swimming pool can be a silent killer. Consider this top ten list of the most common, and most dangerous swimming pool deficiencies:
Proper electrical wiring for a swimming pool and all its components is critical since water, electricity and people are a dangerous mix. Swimming pools, and all metal components within one meter of the water line should be bonded with a heavy ground wire loop. Additionally all electrical devices that come into close contact with water such as pumps and lights must be properly connected with a GFIC or ground fault interrupter.
9) Slippery Decks
As swimming pool deck surfaces age and weather they will develop algae and become very slippery, especially in wet conditions. To reduce the likelihood of falling or slipping on a pool deck, you should pressure wash your deck yearly. Additionally a silica sand can be added to your concrete sealer to provide a more textured and slip resistant surface.
8) Ladders & Stairs
Stairs and ladders are a very common place for injury in a swimming pool. Colored nosing tile is used to accentuate step edges in many pools, which helps to define the step edges under the moving water. The likelihood for a fall or injury increases at night, and also even more so if there is no underwater swimming pool light to illuminate the water. Ladders often have hand rails installed into the pool deck which can become loose over time. If the ladder rails shift as you are climbing out of the water, this will greatly increase the risk of a fall.
7) Water Quality
Do not underestimate your green swimming pool. Harmful bacteria can reside in poorly maintained water. It is critical to ensure that the water quality is suitable for swimming to prevent infections and staph infections of the eyes, ears, nose and throat. Chemical levels in the water can also affect those prone to skin reactions.
6) Chemical Storage
Your swimming pool chemicals are a potent mix of strong acids, alkalies and poisons. Even worse is that many of these chemicals specifically react with one another, yet they are often stored in the same location with little effort to keep them safe. Chemicals should be researched and stored in a controlled, dry and locked location at all times.
5) Pool Winter Covers
Winterization covers are often just large tarps stretched over the pool with sand or water bags pinning them down at the edges. These are not strong enough to support the weight of a medium pet or small child without pulling into the pool. They can look tempting to walk on, but any person or animal that walks out onto a swimming pool winter cover is in serious jeopardy.
4) Suction Lines
The swimming pool suction points, most commonly the skimmer and the main drain are directly connected to the front of powerful swimming pool pumps. The power of a pool pump is more than enough the cause sever and life threatening injury. The warning label that comes on new main drains, skimmers and pool pumps states that the pool pump has enough force to trap, drown and disembowel you should you unwittingly cover the suction point with any part of your body. Tragically every year more children are killed this way from single suction main drains which are now illegal. Dual suction main drains spaced apart are now required so that you can not cover both suction points at the same time. Proper use of main drain lids is critical to ensure the safety of your swimmers.
3) Pool Toys
A surprisingly common source for swimming pool related accidents is a result of swimming pool toys which are not suitable for use in a pool. Some floatation devices can cause young swimmers to flip over and get trapped upside down under the water. Large inner tubes or inflatable boats are prime examples of items better suited for the beach.
2) Pool Slides
Swimming pool slides seem like a good idea when you consider children playing in the pool. At the same time, a pool slide is literally like letting your children play on a 9 foot tall ladder overtop of concrete. Pool slides are less and less common these days, and for good reason as they are the second most common cause of serious injury in a swimming pool.
1) Diving Boards
By far the most dangerous element to your swimming pool is the diving board. The vast majority of swimming pools are not deep enough for a diving board. The risk of spinal and head trauma are extremely high in pools less than nine feet deep, which most are. Even a moderately steep dive will cause a collision at the bottom for the swimmer, and the long slope of the pool shallow end is a tricky obstacle to avoid when pulling up from the dive. Removing the diving board from your pool and encouraging a no diving policy will decrease the likelihood of a swimming pool accident or injury by as much as 50%.
Remember - these swimming pool dangers relate to the average swimmer, but an unused pool can be just as deadly. Be sure to install an automatic swimming pool safety cover to take the single most proactive step towards increasing the safety of your swimming pool.
Steven Goodale is a swimming pool expert and popular online DIY guru. Read more about his swimming pool safety efforts at http://www.Poolsafetycovers.ca
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