9 Pool Safety Tips Every Pool Owner Should Know

Mariel Loveland
Written by Mariel Loveland
Updated May 5, 2022
Friends playing in the pool in the backyard
Photo: wundervisuals / E+ / Getty Images

Dive into these pool safety best practices (as long as you’re not in the shallow end)

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As the weather gets warmer, your backyard swimming pool becomes the best seat in the house—but the difference between a happy and hazardous family outing is all in the safety precautions. Simply put, pool and water safety matter. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drowning is a leading cause of death for children, and every day there are about 11 accidental fatal drownings. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help prevent poolside accidents. From pool maintenance to swim lessons, here are nine tips for pool safety to keep you and your family safe.

1. Take Swimming Lessons

You can start your children on swim lessons as young as six months old—but it’s good for swimmers of all ages to brush on their butterfly stroke. The best way to keep your pool safe is to make sure that everyone in your household knows how to swim, regardless of age. Your local parks department may offer free swimming lessons, but if not, most local community pools have options.

2. Install a Fence Around Your Immediate Pool Area

A fence around your swimming pool is a reliable way to keep little ones from accessing your pool when you’re not around. The best way to add a pool fence is to install it around the entire pool area so it’s completely separated from your home and the rest of your yard. The cost of a pool fence is typically around $15 to $25 per linear foot, but there are types for all kinds of budgets. Make sure the fence is climb-proof and that a young child won’t be able to fit through the slats. According to the CDC, a four-sided isolation fence can reduce a child’s risk of drowning by 83%—and a local fence installer can help you get started.

3. Don’t Let Your Child Play Around Drains 

Even if your drains are properly maintained, they can still pose a safety risk. Drains use suction and can pull a small child—or, in some cases, even an adult—under water. This dangerous situation can happen if a limb, a piece of clothing, or a strand of hair gets caught in the drain. One of the more important tips for pool safety is to never let children play near drains and pool filters. You can also hire a local swimming pool service to help childproof your swimming pool by installing anti-entrapment drain covers. Remember: even the best drain covers require proper maintenance to safely work.

4. Choose a Safety Pool Cover

Swimming pool covers are an important part of water safety—but not every type of pool cover is safe. Floating solar covers and winter covers come with an increased drowning risk. They look like a solid surface, but they can’t support weight. If a child wanders into the pool area and slips onto the cover, they can get trapped underneath. Instead, opt for a safety pool cover. When properly installed, these covers can hold a minimum of 485 pounds per five square feet.

5. Enlist a Water Watcher

A man keeping an eye on the children swimming in the pool
Photo: xavierarnau / E+ / Getty Images

One of the most crucial swimming pool safety tips is to never swim alone. Drowning accidents are more likely to happen when someone’s not looking. At a public pool, you’ve got a lifeguard to ensure water safety. At home, you should enlist a water watcher. Anytime children are by the pool, make sure there’s one person—who isn’t under the influence of alcohol or medication—that can keep an eye on them. 

6. Don’t Run Around the Pool Area

This may seem like one of the most obvious pool safety tips, but nobody should run around the pool area—regardless of the type of pool. Pool decks are notoriously slippery, especially if they’re made from wood. Falls can cause serious injuries (not to mention what could happen if you slip into water). Always walk carefully, and consider installing non-slip tiles. Concrete pavers tend to be slip resistant, but accidents still can happen, so going slow is best.

7. Keep Toys Away From the Pool Area

Add this one to your pool closing checklist. Before you leave the pool area, make sure all toys—whether they’re for outdoor or indoor play—are removed from the pool deck and put in a child-safe area. The idea is to discourage children from wandering over to the pool unattended. Put pool floats and water toys back into the shed when playtime is over and always keep toys away from the pool area when it’s not in use.

8. Take a CPR Class

Accidents happen, so it’s a good idea to be prepared just in case. In the event of a water emergency, CPR can save lives. To keep your whole family safe, get certified to perform CPR on both children and adults. Classes are usually available through local hospitals or the American Red Cross.

9. Install a Pool Alarm

Swimming pool alarms are integral to a solid pool safety system. They work by either sensing water movement or using infrared motion detection. If someone—or something—falls into the pool, you’ll hear an alarm. Keep in mind that some larger pools will need multiple sensors and each sensor has specific weight limits, but this is a great solution for families with children and pets.

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