Drowning is the number one accidental killer of children under four. One in ten drowning victims gained access to the pool where they drowned because the pool fencing was not adequate. These are horrible numbers, and they point out the need for every residential pool owner to be vigilant about maintaining and repairing their pool fencing.
If you own a home with a pool but you have no small children, you may not realize how easily babies, toddlers and preschoolers can sneak through even a small hole in your pool barrier or gate.
Avoid the heartache of having an unsupervised child gain access to your pool by always assuming there's a toddler on the loose in your neighborhood looking for a pool party to crash:
All it takes is four inches
A small child can crawl through a hole as tiny as four inches across. Make a fist with your hand and go all along the perimeter of your fence line seeing if that fist will fit through any gaps or tears in your enclosure.
Examine your fence from the very top to the very bottom at least once a week, and remember that small children and pets may crawl along the base of your fence line and find gaps behind overgrown weeds and other barriers.
Make sure there is less than a four-inch gap between any gate and gate post and that there are no structures or items that can make it easy for a child to climb up and over your pool fence.
Multiple layers of protection are key
You should have as many alarms as you can stand around your pool. Start at the home with alarms on all doors and windows that may provide access to the pool. Even if you don't have small children or pets over often, these alarms will be ready if and when small children do come to visit.
Have alarms at all outside pool gates to alert you when any gate is opened from either side. Motion sensing alarms can also let you know if someone climbs over a fence or is in the patio area. Water-disturbance alarms are another layer of protection that will beep when a child or pet falls into the pool.
Pool covers have been offered as one protective layer, but even the shallow level of water that collects in pool covers has caused the drowning of toddlers. A strong, sturdy and secure pool fence is your best defense when alarms are added.
Be prepared for regular small visitors
If you know small children will be visiting your home on a regular basis, you should set up some rules. Parents must put away their phones and actively supervise their children when in your home. Stay vigilant yourself, and stop inviting parents to your home if they're irresponsible about watching their little ones.
Purchase a child immersion alarm kit as an extra bonus level of security. These kits include bracelets that cause an alarm to go off when they are exposed to water and when the child strays too far from the base unit. If you have any concerns about a visiting toddler or child wandering into your pool zone, you can insist that they wear one of the bracelets (or collars if it's a pet you're concerned about) while in the vicinity of your pool.
Old school wooden privacy fencing and other pool fencing that is nearing the end of its useful life should be replaced with modern fencing as soon as possible. New designs and materials used in pool safety fencing make the enclosures easier for you to to maintain while making it much harder for small kids to breach your pool area.
Pool fencing specialists also have the know how to install alarms and/or contacts to help you install pool alarms around your leisure areas and pool fencing, and they know the legal requirements for new pool fencing in your local area. Be proactive and safeguard your home from preventable tragedy with a good pool fence and loud alarms.