Be a good owner: Maintenance is key
Investing in a pool is serious business, and maintaining the space is critical. While the types of pools may vary (in-ground or above ground), there are essential elements to consider. Around the pool, this means fencing at least 1.2 metres high, with no more than a 10-centimetre gap between vertical boards — be sure to check with your municipality to confirm local regulations. Fencing should have a gate with a childproof latch, and all furniture or planters should be far away from the fence to dissuade people from climbing over the fencing.
Schedule in a regular check of your pool, reviewing the condition of the pool lining, tiles, and filters. Loose or broken tiles may snag swimsuits or hair, while filters can create dangerous suction. Check your pool deck for cracked paving or a splinter prone deck. Fix any worrisome spots before officially opening the pool for the season.
Store your chemicals safely
Safe storage of pool chemicals is important, as they can be toxic. Use a well-ventilated storage shed that can be locked. Noodles, floats, and other water toys should be stored at the end of a pool session, as leaving them out may be too tempting for a child to play with when no one’s around. When closing down the pool, use a strong cover without any rips or holes. This can be the first line of defence against an unintentional drowning. If you have a kiddie pool in your backyard, make sure to empty it after every use, and overturn it in a secure spot to deter unsupervised playtime.
Your pool, your rules
Before that first dip, all swimmers must know the rules for your pool. Residential pools are typically not deep enough for diving, so advise swimmers to jump in feet first. Walking, not running, is the preferred gait around the pool deck, while alcohol, drugs, and glass should never be invited to a pool party.
If you’re having a celebration around the pool, keep tabs on the number of people invited. A crowded pool area can make it difficult to supervise swimmers, especially if you’re trying to play host. If the party starts to feel unwieldy, think about downsizing your guest list, or hiring a local lifeguard.
When thinking about pool rules, consider the weather as well. The first sign of a storm is a good time to pull swimmers out, while the fierce summer sun may mean mandatory sunscreen before swimming.
Swimming skills required
While everyone loves to cool off on a hot summer’s day, not everyone has the same swimming skills. When inviting people over to swim, verify that everyone can swim. Assuming can lead to disastrous results, especially if an adult that doesn’t feel comfortable is left to supervise small children.S
Have Transport Canada-approved life jackets available for swimmers of all ages, but remember — a life jacket is no substitute for adult supervision. As for water wings, floaties, or pool noodles? Those aren’t designed for lifesaving, just play. When in doubt, use a life jacket.
Swimming lessons can be a family affair for those with pools. Register in lessons to learn proper technique and basic survival skills in the water. For those old enough, sign up for a lifeguard course through the Red Cross. Whether in the backyard or at a summer job, these are valuable skills to have.