Every instructor at Academy Swim Club wants their students to be capable of saving their own life in a water emergency. What we’d like even better is to prevent the emergency in the first place. Supervision is, of course, imperative, but there are easier ways to police your pool.
- Fences. Nothing could be simpler. You can opt for a permanent, wrought iron masterpiece or the flexibility of a removable fence. Whichever option you choose, we recommend installing a key lock of some type (an ordinary padlock will do). We’ve heard too many stories of precocious preschoolers able to operate the latch on a pool gate (by balancing on lawn chairs, tricycles, pets, etc.) Just make sure the key is placed in some unlikely, inaccessible spot as well.
- Safety Pool Covers. These are mesh or solid covers that are pulled taut and secured to the deck at recessed brackets. Flimsy solar covers offer no protection against drowning, but safety covers are strong enough for an adult to walk on and offer warranties of up to 25 years. The mesh ones also allow rain to pass through while keeping out leaves and debris. We’re keeping pools clean and saving kids’ lives – how’s that for multi-tasking?
- Alarms. You’ve got a lot of options here: in-pool alarms, gate alarms, door alarms. The technology for in-pool alarms has improved in recent years so that the siren doesn’t go off every time a leaf falls into the pool. Gate alarms not only alert you when a child opens the gate, but also when an adult fails to close the gate. Door alarms are placed at all house doors that lead to pool access. Our absolute favorite “alarm” isn’t an alarm at all. One of our ASC parents has a security system that announces any door that is opened (“Back Door – Open,” in a feminine voice like the computer in Star Trek). Pretty handy when you’re as worried about the kids escaping into the front yard as the back.
So which one should you get? You need to judge what will work best with your family, but ideally you need more than one barrier or alarm. There is no ONE sure fire way to protect your children from drowning; the trick is to wrap them in layers of protection. Swim lessons, barriers and alarms, and educated supervision all work together to keep kids safe, each making up for deficiencies in the other methods. Think of it like planning a balanced meal and choose one from each group.