By Beth Weinhouse
Lucky you—you've got a backyard swimming pool. Owning a pool can be really fun (and very cool during a hot summer), but you know that it isn't all splash parties and lounging poolside. Pool safety is crucial to help protect your family and friends this summer. Use these pool safety tips to ensure you and your family have a worry-free summer by the water.

Set rules to be followed by anyone using your pool.

The rules are for everyone to follow, but they are especially important for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that those rules include:

  • No tricycles or other riding toys poolside
  • No electrical appliances near the pool
  • No diving in water that's not deep enough (The American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety Manual recommends a water depth of at least nine feet for head-first dives, including dives from pool decks.)
  • No running on the pool deck
But the most important rule, according to the AAP, is that children should never be left alone in or near the water, even for a moment. And when children under age five are in or near the water, an adult—preferably one who knows how to swim and can perform CPR—should be within arm's length.

Make sure your pool is adequately fenced on all sides.

It’s important that no one—especially young children, frail seniors, and anyone who can't swim—has access to the pool when they shouldn't. The AAP and American Red Cross recommend that pools should be surrounded on all sides by a fence at least 4-feet high with self-closing, self-latching gates and no openings big enough for children to get through. In addition, the American Red Cross recommends that pool owners remove ladders or steps used for access when the pool is not in use and keep the pool covered with a safety cover. For added safety, consider installing a pool alarm that will alert you if anyone enters the pool.

Maintain your pool for both safety and health.

It's important to maintain the pool, drains, and pool cover in good working order. Make sure that the drains in your pool are compliant with U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards. If you're unsure about those standards, ask your pool service provider. Get more tips for keeping your pool safe from the CPSC's Pool Safely website.

Improperly maintained pools can also put swimmers at risk of recreational water illnesses (RWIs), including infections and diarrhea. Chlorine kills most germs that cause illness, but chlorine doesn't work instantly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that even the best-maintained pools can spread illness, since some germs can live in pools for days, so it’s important to take preventive measures to minimize the risk of RWIs.

Keep a safety kit handy poolside.

Be prepared for both minor and major mishaps that could happen at your pool. The CPSC recommends having a safety kit that contains a first aid kit, a pair of scissors to cut hair, clothing, or a pool cover in an emergency, a charged portable phone to call 911, and a flotation device.

Check with your insurance agent and review your homeowner's policy.

Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage for your pool and accessories. Safeco Insurance advises that any time you have an increase in property value or risk, you may need to increase your insurance coverage. Remember that it's not just the pool, but also the pool equipment, pool accessories, and outdoor furniture that may increase the value of your personal belongings. Check your policy to see what safety measures are required so your coverage isn't jeopardized. Swimming pools and diving boards or slides can be additional liability hazards, so review the liability limits on your homeowners’ policy and consider purchasing additional coverage through an umbrella policy.

Now that you've taken these steps, go ahead and jump in—the water's fine!


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