Keeping Kids Safe Around Swimming Pools & Water
Summer is right around the corner and so is that awful Alabama heat. If you’re thinking about ditching the crowds at the local pool and water park this year, and installing your own backyard pool, there are a number of issues, legal and practical, that you will want to consider before “diving” in to this kind of project. This is also great info for those who have had a home pool for several years but might need a safety checklist refresher.
Talk About Pool Safety… A LOT
The safety concerns that every parent needs to know when preparing for any pool trip – whether a community pool or a backyard family pool – may seem obvious, but they are important enough to say again and again.
Do NOT swim alone.
Many pool and water-related accidents can be avoided by practicing the buddy system. Never leave children unsupervised near a body of water, even a bath. The families of drowned children know it can happen in a matter of seconds. Children under the age of four should be supervised at arm’s length, even if they can swim. Never rely on air-filled or foam toys, such as floaties or water wings to keep children safe.
Test your equipment every year.
Make sure that all of your flotation devices and pool equipment are in good-working order. Rust and mold are signs that it may be time for a new lifejacket or pool hook.
Know CPR. Full stop.
Having a family member (or the whole family) certified for CPR can literally save a life. Classes can be completed at Huntsville Hospital – here’s more info.
Upgrade your surveillance.
Outdoor cameras are a great way to keep an eye on older kids outside if you have to run into the house for a quick moment, and can also serve as a deterrent to trespassers who are thinking of taking an unauthorized dip in the deep end.
Channel your inner chemist.
Be sure to educate yourself on the proper pH levels needed for your pool and the necessary chemicals to keep those levels safe. Improper pH balance can cause skin irritation and other health complications.
Invest in better door locks.
Deadbolt locks now come with a “double deadbolt” feature that allows parents to keep small children inside the house, and away from a backyard pool without supervision. But all the locks in the world won’t work unless your whole family consistently uses them.
Consider ISR Lessons.
Got a baby on the way or in the house? Seriously look into getting some Infant Swim Resource (ISR) lessons. This trains babies as young as 6 months old how to survive if they fall into a pool. Here are a few places where they’re offered locally.
The Scoop on Home Pool Insurance
Immediately after deciding that a family pool is a project that your family wants to tackle, you should contact your home insurance agent to make sure that pool and accidents related to the pool can be covered, and if a special rider or new policy is needed. Swimming pool safety also includes knowing all about your liability.
The average homeowner’s policy limit is $100,000.00 per claim, which would likely not come close to covering the full amount of medical damages in the event of a major disaster related to your pool. Families having their own pool installed should consider enrolling in an “umbrella” policy, which is additional coverage above your policy’s limits and is relatively cheap. However, many companies require that your standard policy limits be increased to the maximum before agreeing to provide an umbrella policy. Whatever the specific requirements for your insurance carrier, asking about this policy should be a priority.
The Boring (but Really Important!) Legal Stuff
Both the City of Huntsville and the unincorporated parts of Madison County require that the International Building Code (which includes the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code) be followed and that all construction comply with the requirements stated therein. The IBC can be found here, and the ISPSC can be found here, in case you just LOVE administrative construction regulations.
The City of Huntsville has an additional set of special requirements regarding the fencing and gates surrounding family pools, located at Chapter 7, Article 8, Sections 7-611 through 613. Importantly, violations of this fencing requirement for family pools is a criminal misdemeanor offense, so be sure that you are in compliance. The requirements change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so be sure to research the laws in your particular area.
You Might Also Like…
- Where to Take Swim Lessons in Huntsville
- My Daughter Drowned at Summer Camp – Don’t Make the Same Mistakes I Did
- Where to Find Public Pools, Splashpads, & Water Fun in the TN Valley
- RCM’s Summer Fun Guide
ABOUT THE EXPERT: Caleb W. Ballew is an associate attorney with the Huntsville law firm of Martinson & Beason, P.C., where he has practiced since 2012. Caleb’s practice areas include divorce, domestic relations, criminal defense, general civil litigation, and estate litigation. In addition, he is a certified guardian ad litem and often represents the rights of juveniles. Caleb’s wife, Kourtney, is also an attorney, and they live in the medical district of Huntsville.
Rocket City Mom is a website about raising children in and around Huntsville, Alabama. Started in late 2010 by a local mom and newcomer to Huntsville, Rocket City Mom has grown into a thriving community of local parents and now boasts a staff of four, thirteen regular contributors, and tens of thousands of Tennessee Valley readers making it the #1 Parenting Resource in North Alabama.