Pool Safety Extends to the Technical Side of Pool Care

May is water safety month. Last week we talked a lot about swimmer safety, which is of the utmost importance, but there is another side of pool safety that extends to the care and maintenance of the pool itself. Keeping your pool clean, healthy and swim-ready takes time, tools, and chemicals. In a world where organic reigns king it is sometimes tough to think about allowing your kids swim in a pool full of chemicals, but when properly maintained and balanced pool water is perfectly safe. Handling and working with pool chemicals and equipment takes a certain level of care and expertise. There are hidden dangers that can injure or create health concerns for inexperienced pool owners. Gizmo, our Pool Scouts mascot and this month safety scout is here to talk more about the details. Gizmo’s Guidance on the Technical Side of Pool Care:Scuba Pup There are several aspects of pool maintenance that can present risks. The following are some of the substances and situations to consider when caring for your pool:
  • Muriatic acid
  • Chlorine
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Main drain suction
  • Vacuum ports
  • Exposed wires and GFCI outlets
You may be familiar with some of these items listed but others you may not be aware of the risks. So let’s break it down. Muriatic Acid. Muriatic acid is highly corrosive and can cause problem when it comes in contact with the skin or is inhaled. It is important to wear glove and safety goggles with handling the substance. Only work with muriatic acid in a well ventilated area and do not mix it with other chemicals without reading the label; it may be explosive! The good news is, once diluted, like in a pool, the substance is safe. Chlorine. Chlorine is a powerful disinfectant and bleaching agent that can present a number of hazards. Chlorine is most hazardous when fumes are inhaled or if the substance gets into your eyes, mouth or throat.  Similar to muriatic acid, it is always a good idea to where protective wear, eye glasses and a mask, when working with chlorine. Also, be mindful of how you store chlorine. Always make sure the storage area is well ventilated, that the substance isn’t located next to a direct heat source, and that the container cannot tip over. When cleaning with chlorine, be sure to read the label first, as it can react to other substances. For example, chlorine mixed with ammonia can create a violent reaction.  Diatomaceous Earth. Diatomaceous earth is another chemical used aid filtration in your pool, and while it is one of the least aggressive substances used, when inhaled in large amounts it can cause long-term lung problems. When handling DE you should always wear a mask to protect your respiratory system. Main Drain Suction. While the main drain doesn’t impact someone caring for your pool,it would be remiss of us not to talk about the safety concerns with the drain system in your pool. The main drain, typically at the deepest point of your pool, runs suction that helps to keep your pool clean. In the event that a swimmer lies on top of or sits on the cover of the main drain and covers it completely, their body could become stuck and they might not be able to get to the surface because the suction is too strong. One incident sited that four men were unable to release a young girl from the pull of the drain. Very scary stuff. The good news is that they have developed drain covers that prevent someone from completely covering the drain and getting stuck. Additionally, the Pool And Spa Safety Act has guidelines that require pool professionals to alert pool owners of outdated covers and update them immediately. As a pool owner, it is important that you make sure you have an updated drain cover, keep scissors by the pool to release clothing or hair that may get caught in the system and if someone should get trapped, pull on one side of their body at a time to release the suction. Vacuum Ports. Vacuum ports in the pool system can also be hazardous. These can be located in your  skimmer basket but also on the wall of your pool. The port located on the wall can present a similar risk for entrapment to that of the main drain suction. Breathe a sigh of relief, because this can be easily rectified by fitting the port with a safety latched cover. Simply remove the old fitting by unscrewing it and and thread the new one onto the port. DONE. GFI Outlets and Exposed Wires. Pool systems run on electricity, and because the pool area is a place of entertainment, there can be outlet near by. It is incredibly important that all outlet by the pool are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets. GFCI outlets trip and cut power when the line is exposed to water. Similarly, when completing repairs to the pool system, it is important to cut power and make sure all wires are properly insulated and in good shape to avoid any risk of electrocution. Pools are a place of fun and relaxation but their are risks involve in owning and maintaining a pool. The best defense is education and knowledge. I hope we’ve provided you with some background on keeping your pool safe. Pool Scouts technicians are trained on handling all these situations and keeping your pool water clear and healthy and your pool area a safe place to be. Take a moment to ensure your pool and surrounding area are up to date and get out there and enjoy that pool! Pool Scouts is a pool service company offering recurring, single service, opening, closing and minor pool repair service.         
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Meet Gizmo – He’s here to discuss Water Safety!

water safety graphicAs a pool-owner and a mom of two elementary school-aged kids, I am definitely thinking about water safety this time of year. The kids have be en in swim lessons for years, the gates have locks, and the back door has a chime on it so we know when someone goes out by the pool. Pool safety is always a concern and a worry, but I have come to realize it extends beyond young kids. As someone now in the pool industry, I have become all too aware of how deadly water can be for people of all ages. Small children are the most vulnerable, but older kids and adults can also be at risk. There are many simple things that can be done to significantly reduce the risk of water accidents. For me, it is about diligence and taking all necessary steps required to be prepared for any situation. Through preparation and care we can make our pools a place of relaxation and fun! There are many resources available online dedicated to pool and water safety. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Gizmo! Gizmo is the Pool Scouts mascot and is our acting Safety Scout this month! Gizmo (aptly named after the piece of equipment used when winterizing your pool) will be bringing you tips and tricks of the trade.  Today, Gizmo has key tips to ensure your pool is a happy place full of fun memories!

Gizmo’s Guidance on Water Safety:Scuba-Pup_GM

1. Secure the barrier around the pool.

Ensuring the area around your pool is secure is the first step to preventing accidental entry to the pool. Statistics show that 6% of drownings occurred in a neighbor’s pool, 23% occurred in a friend or family’s pool, while 44% occurred at home. There are a variety of different types of barriers that can prevent entry to the pool. Some of those include:

Fencing is an obvious choice and legally required in most states. The key here is to make sure the gates are self-closing and latch automatically. There are also fences available that enclose just your pool, allowing you to sit by the pool while providing a barrier to the water. Some of the more commonly known brands are “ProtectAChild”, “LifeSaverFencing” and “BabyLoc.”

Set up door and gate alarms. Alarms can be set up to alert homeowners if a door or gate that accesses the pool has been opened. These can be wired through your home security system or even just set up on the one door or gate.

 Leverage pressure sensitive alarms. Pool or spa floating or wave alarms that are mounted on the edge of the pool or in the water and activate when water is displaced.

There are even high tech perimeter alarms to secure your pool. These alarms use a laser system that creates a perimeter around your pool that sounds when the perimeter is broken.

2. Establish and post pool rules.

This is something commonly seen at public and commercial pools.  But do you have pool rules at your home? With the backyard pool being a place to gather, posting the pool rules is another step toward a safe pool environment.

Some rules to consider for your pool:Pool Rules

–       No swimming without an adult present.

–       No running around the pool.

–       No diving.

–       No pushing.

3. Be prepared for any situation.

There are a number of things that can go wrong while swimming. As a pool owner, it is your responsibility to equip your pool with the proper safety items and be prepared for any situation. Here are a few other recommendations to keep in mind:

Have a first-aid kit on hand. Include typical first aid items like Band-Aids, tape, gauze, antibacterial ointment, and scissors in case of entrapment to cut hair or clothing.

Have flotation devices or life hooks available. Experts recommend you reach or throw a safety device to someone struggling in the water versus jumping in after them. Too often people who go in the water to help can also get into trouble.

Have the phone and phone numbers readily available. Be sure to have a phone and pertinent phone numbers in an easily accessible place. Use the following Emergency Contact Form to post emergency numbers by the pool.

Take swim lessons. Learning to swim is a great way to reduce water concerns. Although it is ideal to teach kids to swim when they are young it is never too late to learn.

Learn CPR. Many Red Cross locations and local civic centers offer CPR courses. As a pool owner, take the time to learn CPR. Precious seconds can be saved when someone by the pool can perform the life saving procedure.

4. Take the Pledge.

As a last step, I would like to ask you, your family, your friends and any pool patrons to take the “I’m A Safe Swimmer” pledge:

“I pledge to never swim alone.

I pledge to never play or swim near drains or suction fittings.

I pledge to always dive feet first.

I pledge to obey the pool rules.”

Pools are a place of fun for people of all ages. Taking some simple steps to ensure your pool is a safe place to swim will make it more enjoyable for all your friends and family. There are a number of resources out there that can offer additional tips. Take a few minutes to review these sites and think about how you can take steps to reduce risk at your pool. Thank you for taking a few minutes to review Gizmo’s Guidance on Water Safety. By following some of these recommendations you’ll find that your pool is a safer, more relaxing place to be! Online Resources referenced: http://www.poolsafely.gov/http://www.nationalwatersafetymonth.org/http://www.apsp.org/safety/water-safety-brochures.aspxhttps://www.nspf.org/content/home-pool-essentials-2http://www.swimuniversity.com/5-ways-to-make-your-swimming-pool-safer/https://www.nspf.org/content/home-pool-essentials-2
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