As the warmth of summer fades and winter’s chill settles in, swimming becomes a dangerous affair. As the days shorten and daylight hours dwindle, swimming pools become icy landscapes that can expose you to extreme cold. Even if the water is heated, there’s a chance you could still get hypothermia.
While it’s true that most pool accidents happen during warm summer months, cold water during winter is also a point of concern for parents and pool owners alike. In the United States, a lot of people die from hypothermia in swimming pools every year. Reports indicate that 6,660 people died from hypothermia between 2006 and 2010. This was an average of 1,320 deaths a year. For that reason, it’s important to educate yourself on winter pool safety measures.
The concern isn’t so much for people who are deliberately looking for a winter dip in the pool. It’s for the young and elderly people in our communities who may accidentally fall into the pool and drown or suffer from hypothermia.
The following tips will help you enhance winter swimming pool safety for kids, the elderly, and animals alike.
Safety Measures For Pools Year-Round
With nearly 4,000 child drownings per year between 2005 and 2014, 20% of the victims were younger than 14 years old. If you don’t have a safety pool cover or a lockable fence enclosure, you should be extra careful to ensure vulnerable family members or pets do not fall victim to an easily avoidable situation. Review some of your options when it comes to securing your pool for the winter.
1. Safety Covers
An important aspect to consider for anyone with a swimming pool is the need to install safety covers. There are several options available for these covers, including vinyl, plastic, and fiberglass film. They come in a variety of colors, and can be custom cut to fit you pool’s size and shape. In addition, they can help keep the temperature higher than the outside winter temperatures. The material you choose should be durable and effective in keeping children and pets out.
2. Safety Nest
This is a structure that is made of netting, which is usually installed above the pool deck. It prevents children and animals from accidentally falling into a swimming pool and becoming fully submerged. However, keep in mind that a net cannot keep a child or animal from maneuvering into a position where their face goes below water level.
3. Safety Fence
A safety fence protects the pool against unauthorized access by kids, older adults, or pets. These are typically made of wire mesh, and come with specialized kid-proof latches.
4. Solid Covers
These winter pool covers are the most appropriate for swimming pools in this region. They’re designed to block sunlight and also withstand the effects of snow, wind, and ice. These are a lot heavier to handle and store, as well as more costly. However, a good solid pool cover can serve as the ultimate protection against drowning. They can also provide more deck space on your patio for winter get-togethers and events.
5. Perimeter Fence
In addition to the solid cover, you should install a six-foot tall safety fence along the perimeter of your backyard, preferably made of wood or metal. This fence will prevent unauthorized access to your backyard and swimming pool.
6. Door Alarms and Cameras
A door alarm system is one of the necessary safety measures for a home swimming pool. This device is located at the main entrance of your swimming pool. This alarm will alert you if someone is trying to access your swimming pool without authorization. Cameras can also alert you to any unwanted visitors on your patio area.
Winter Safety Based on Pool Type
1. Portable Pools
The most common type of pool is the portable one, which is easy to install and not intended for use in the frigid winter weather. When the first sign of winter appears, the pool needs to be drained, dried, folded, and then stored indoors. Otherwise, they present a danger to both human and animal life. The main reason behind moving them indoors is that they lack adequate perimeter fencing, covers, or alarm systems needed to ensure safety for kids.
2. In-Ground Pools
In-ground pools are more resistant to a drop in temperature. They also have stable structures, which means they can be used during winter.
To ensure the safety of your in-ground pool, you should regularly maintain the fencing. A cover is highly recommended for this type because it will bar the entry of kids or pets. You should also lock any gates that are not in use. In addition, you can use an alarm system to alert you of any unauthorized entry into the pool. Lastly, having a safety fence along the perimeter can reduce the risk of small children falling into the water.
3. Above Ground Pools
An above-ground pool is a large body of water that is completely surrounded by an enclosure. Install an alarm system around it to alert you of any unauthorized entry.
You should also choose a pool cover that will bar the entry of kids or pets when you’re not around to supervise. The following are specific safety tips that you need to consider in using an above-ground pool:
- If there are any items that can be used as a step in the backyard, be sure to remove them or block them off safely
- Ensure there are no ladders connected to an attached pool deck
- Attach a safety fence around the pool deck to prevent children from accessing it
- If the case of a complete surround deck, use a safety cover
4. Inline Pools
Inline pools are those with the shape of a rectangle and are not enclosed by walls. This means kids and pets can easily access them. These types of pools require proper caution when it comes to their usage.
You need to always keep the pool covered and the gates locked. A safety cover is recommended for this type of pool to bar the entry of kids and animals. You can also install an alarm system or cameras to alert you of suspicious activities around your pool. Lastly, locking access doors such as sliding glass doors, patio enclosures, and directly connected restroom doors can reduce any chance mishaps. Using child nobs and latches on inside doors can also limit a child’s access to the pool area.
Swimming pools of all kinds are a source of fun and relaxation, but they also present a source of danger that may result in fatality. Therefore, it is essential to take proper precautions, especially during winter.