We love our kids and pets, but they often find the most curious ways to make more work for the adults in their lives. Take the backyard swimming pool, for example. We spend countless hours every month ensuring that the pool stays clean and safe for our family and friends. We clean the filters, we test the chemical balance in the water and adjust the pool chemicals as needed, we scrub the sides and bottom of the pool regularly to remove dirt and debris, and more. So, when one of our beloved children (furry or otherwise) decides to use the pool as the drop zone for their poop, we understandably freak out. What now?
The first steps are probably obvious — clear all the swimmers out of the pool and then remove the offending poop from the water. But, then what? How long will it take before it’s safe to go back into the water? Well, it depends on what’s in the poop. Poop can contain the E. coli bacterium, the Hepatitis A virus, the Giardia parasite, and/or the super nasty Cryptosporidium parasite. Not many private pool owners have the desire or ability to test the poop to find out what kind of contaminants it contains, but it is important to note that the disinfection time varies greatly depending on the contaminants that the poop introduced into the pool water.
The best approach is to take the most cautious route in case water is contaminated with the hard-to-kill and chlorine-resistant parasite Cryptosporidium. Disinfecting means hyperchlorinating the pool water by increasing free chlorine to either 10 parts per million (ppm) or 20 ppm. The difference comes with the amount of time you’ll have to wait before it’s safe to swim again. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), increasing free chlorine to 10 ppm means you’ll have to wait approximately 26 hours before swimming again. At 20 ppm, swimming can resume after about 13 hours. If you’re using a chlorine stabilizer, though, the game changes a bit.
For full details about what to do when you’ve had poop in your pool, read the CDC’s instruction sheet on “Hyperchlorination to kill Cryptosporidium.” Additionally, instituting a mandatory pre-pool time potty visit for both kids and pets can help prevent future accidents.
The best time to prepare for a safe swimming season is before the season ever begins. Two of the most important pieces in the pool safety plan can be accomplished now — swim lessons and CPR certification.
Children and adults should not only feel comfortable in the water, they should successfully complete basic swimming and water safety training before entering a swimming pool. Even better, swimmers should continue with swimming lessons throughout the season and beyond to increase ability and strength. Your local Y or community center may offer year-round swim lessons. Alternatively, you can contact your local Red Cross to find locations that offer swim lessons.
Even the strongest swimmers can experience accidents in water, so becoming certified in CPR and first aid is the second crucial step you can take now to prepare for a safe swimming season. Contact your local Red Cross for class offerings. Be sure to take a refresher course every year because you never know when your life-saving skills will be needed.
When swimming season arrives, the swim lessons you and your family take and the CPR certification you achieve will go far in helping prevent accidental injuries and drownings in and around the swimming pool. Don’t forget, though, that responsible adult supervision should always be available when children are playing in and near the water. No preventative measures ever replace proper supervision.
That hidden danger could be unsafe drain covers in pools and spas. Why are pool and spa drains so dangerous? Because if the drain cover is flat, any object or body part that covers that drain can become trapped by a powerful suction from which escape is difficult, and sometimes impossible. Luckily, the Pool and Spa Safety Act, also known as the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, was signed into law in 2007. This law requires that every public pool and spa in the U.S. be “equipped with anti-entrapment devices or systems that comply with the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 performance standard, or any successor standard.” Flat pool drains are assumed to be a thing of the past in public pools and spas. The law does not apply, however, to residential pools and spas, and, unfortunately, this is where a majority of entrapment injuries and deaths occur.
Anti-entrapment drain covers for residential pools and spas are readily available and easy to install. The difference is in the design. Anti-entrapment drain covers are not flat, but domed, or shaped in some way that prevents objects or bodies from completely covering the drain and creating a dangerous suction. They offer an inexpensive and simple solution to a serious and sometimes deadly problem.
Even if you have safety fencing installed around your in ground or above ground swimming pool, you should seriously consider adding pool alarms to your swimming pool protection plan. Protecting against accidents in and around the pool requires the implementation of multiple safety devices.
What to Look for in a Pool Alarm
Pool alarms may come with many more features than are presented here, but the following is a list of recommended features to look for when deciding on a pool alarm for your own backyard swimming pool:
- Easy installation
- Tamper proof
- Includes a remote receiver with a range of up to 200 ft or more
- Low battery indicator on alarm and on receiver
- Recommended for the size and shape of your swimming pool
- Able to detect an object as small as a 1 year old child, approximately 18 pounds
- A loud and distinct alarm should sound within 20 seconds when a child simulator is dropped into the pool.
After you decide which pool alarm you need, performing regular tests of the alarm’s effectiveness will ensure that your alarm continues to function properly over time.
Multiple layers of protection significantly decrease the chance that accidents in and around the pool will occur. No matter how many safety devices you choose to install, though, constant supervision by a responsible adult should always be part of the protection plan.
Anyone who owns an above ground pool knows that getting into and out of one requires a safe and sturdy pool ladder. When swimming is over for the day, though, do you remove your pool ladder? To help prevent access to your above ground pool when a responsible adult is not around to supervise, it’s essential to remove your pool ladder from the pool after each use. Yes, pool ladders can be heavy and awkward — removing and installing them each time you wish to use the pool is not always convenient. Fortunately, safe alternatives exist.
Choosing a pool ladder that has safety features built-in is the best way to prevent pool access while also saving you from the hassle of removing the ladder after each day the pool is used. Here are 3 common options:
1. Pool ladders that are equipped with locking gates are one option above ground pool owners can choose to prevent pool access.
2. A ladder that features a unique rolling barrier is another way that above ground pool owners can block access to the pool.
3. A third alternative to standard above ground pool ladders is one whose outer steps can swing into an upright position and be locked into place to keep ladder rungs out of reach.
While convenience is certainly a benefit of the pool safety ladders shown here, safety is at the heart of their importance. Sure, you can save your time and your back by not having to haul the ladder out of the water at the end of each swimming day, but you may also save a life simply by ensuring that the safety features are engaged before leaving the pool side.