Residential Pool Safety Equipment – A Breakdown To Prevent Drownings

There are so many products that can be added to your backyard pool area when considering pool safety here in the Los Angeles region and in fact in California it is the law if you are building a new pool or remodeling your pool. Whether you are protecting your young children, older adults or even your pets, keeping your backyard up to date with the latest safety features is of the utmost importance.

Here are a few products that you may want to consider:

POOL FENCES

Pool fences are one of the more common ways to ensure safety and are usually gate-locked and childproof. Many pool fences are designed for ease of use and restrict the occurrence of broken or sticking hinges and mechanisms. Alternatively, a temporary and removable pool fence can also be used to be set up only whenever children visit the household; though, a more permanent fence is always recommended.

FOUR SIDED ISOLATION FENCES

A four-sided isolation fence is the best barrier as it completely surrounds the pool or spa. It is different from a property line or “perimeter” fence that keeps neighbors’ children from accessing your pool. Isolation fencing separates swimming pools or spas from the house. They are specially designed so that children cannot easily get over, under, or through them. Code compliant pool fences can be built from many different materials, but some are better suited to the task than others.

Removable isolation fencing is a popular choice for many pool owners. This fence, made of mesh material, is left in place when there is a possibility of access to the swimming pool by young children but removed when adults are present or for parties. It can be rolled up and stored away during occasions when a barrier is not needed. This mesh fencing has a “transparent” nature allowing you to have a clear view of the pool at all times. The only drawback to having this type of fencing is that it does not meet compliance codes for backyard safety in all areas. A pool professional can provide information for your specific area.

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ALUMINUM FENCES

Aluminum is a lightweight, low maintenance fencing material that is an excellent choice for pool fencing because of its physical attributes; it is strong and will not rust. Usually many four sided isolation fences are constructed with aluminum and different types of mesh, tear proof fabric. This makes it easy to tear down and put back as needed.

STEEL FENCES

Steel is a sturdy fencing material that is a popular option for pool fencing. The look and feel of steel fencing closely matches that of aluminum, but it is heavier and stronger. When choosing steel fencing, make sure to choose a product with a high-quality coating that will protect your fence from rust. Most people opt for the light weight and ease of aluminum fencing.

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WOOD FENCES

Wood can be used to make a secure pool fence in either picket style or privacy style. Wood is relatively inexpensive when compared to aluminum, composite, and steel fencing. However, wood is higher maintenance than other materials, requiring periodic painting or staining. Here in Southern California, wood fences are not really seen at all as they do not offer the same protection as four sided aluminum isolation fences which typically last a long time and are low maintenance.

GLASS FENCES

Here in Southern California, many homeowners opt for glass pool fencing as it adds a better look to the property and some do not care for the mesh isolation fencing. Glass fencing is considerably more expensive and can be very high maintenance.

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POOL SAFETY NETS

Pool safety nets provide a safe, secure barrier while maximizing the available backyard space and preserving the view and ambiance of the swimming pool area.

As with all safety barriers the net is only to be used as a deterrent and the child should never be left alone near the pool.

Pool Safety Net Installation

Swimming pool nets provide an excellent barrier for small or confined areas. Finding a cover for uniquely shaped pools with rocks, waterfalls, raised planters, etc, can often be prohibitive, but they usually pose no problem for pool nets.

A swimming pool net has several advantages over pool fences. Children cannot climb over or under a net pool cover like they may be able to with some fences. If unwanted pool entry by older children who may be able to gain access even though a fence is in place is a concern, a pool net can be a viable solution. A swimming pool net can be removed in about 5 minutes and replaced in 5 to 10 minutes.

SAFETY POOL COVERS

One of the most crucial safety devices that a pool owner should have is a safety pool cover. Note that a winter pool cover and solar pool covers are NOT safety covers. To be a safety pool cover, it is required that a pool cover be able to hold a minimum of 485 pounds per five square feet. Safety covers come in two varieties – mesh and solid. Both types of safety covers are anchored to a deck with straps that pull the cover taut over the pool; the straps usually attach to stainless steel springs and are anchored to recessed brackets in a deck surface. When the cover is removed, deck brackets that are not already flush with the deck can be screwed down to prevent tripping or toe-stubbing. Because the straps need to be anchored down, mesh covers generally require at least two to three feet of decking all around the pool. There are a variety of deck anchors for all types of decking material including, but not limited to, concrete, brick, asphalt, earth, and wood.

POOL ALARMS

There are many different types of pool alarms to consider depending on your budget, type of pool, and technical requirements. Remember that pool alarms are one tool that will help to make your swimming area safer. Parental guidance and vigilance are primary in ensuring pool safety. Pool alarms are only as good as you deploy them. The following items are different types of alarms that can be used to help bolster safety precautions for the swimming pool especially if you have young children in the house.

GATE ALARMS

Gate alarms are mounted directly on your pool’s gate with two magnetic switches. These alarms, which are battery powered, activate when the gate is opened and the electrical field is broken. There is an override button that can be pressed by an adult to allow them to pass through without sounding the alarm. Gate alarms are designed for outdoor use, come in many different sizes, are inexpensive, and easy to install.

DOOR ALARMS

Door alarms are designed for swimming pools that include the house in some part of their entire perimeter. When the door is opened an audible alarm sounds. These alarms, which are turned on and off using a key or a keypad, are either battery powered or use the home’s current. They are affordable; easy to install and provide a warning if the door is opened. They are also useful in detecting intruders.

WINDOW ALARMS

As with door alarms, window alarms are used if the house is included in some part of or in the entire perimeter of the pool. When the window is opened, an audible alarm sounds. These alarms, which are turned on and off using a key or a keypad, are either battery powered or use the home’s current. They are affordable, easy to install and provide a warning if the window is opened.

PERIMETER ALARMS

Perimeter alarms use laser or infrared light, forming an unbroken beam of light around the swimming pool’s perimeter. When someone entering the perimeter breaks the beam, the alarm sounds. Alarm beams are positioned 12 to 24 inches above ground level and should be adjusted according to your child’s height. These devices, which are the most expensive on the market, give total perimeter protection at a set height. Disadvantages are that the set height may not suit visiting children and that the alarm will activate if one of the pool’s perimeter alarms is inadvertently hit, moved, or covered.

WRIST/NECK ALARMS

Wrist/neck alarms are the latest in water safety. They may be used at the pool or even in a boat. These waterproof devices are key locked securely onto your child’s wrist/neck and communicate via a base station. When the wrist/neck alarm is immersed in water the station alarm is activated. Base units and wrist/neck alarms are purchased separately, which means you may have numerous wrist alarms for one base station.

FLOATING WAVE SENSORS

Floating/wave sensors are mounted on the edge of the pool or in the pool. They are key activated, battery powered, and portable. Generally, these alarms sense water displacement when an object weighing more than fifteen pounds enters the pool. When this occurs, a signal is sent to a remote receiver which is either in the home or carried by the adult. The receiver emits an alarm of approximately 85 decibels. These alarms can be used with pool covers or solar blankets and have an adjustment that can reduce their sensitivity.

FENCE/WALL PASSIVE INFRARED MOTION DETECTORS

Fence/wall mounted passive infrared motion detectors are an all-weather designed system and may be mounted on a pool fence or wall. They can also be installed in a spa, patio, or garage. They protect an 8-yard semi-circular area by emitting a 110-decibel alarm that can be heard up to 50 yards away. These alarms, which are most effective when mounted on a pool fence or wall, are armed one minute after being switched on and possess a 5-second entry delay feature which prevents the device from going off immediately after it’s been activated. Unique features include both a movement and heat sensitive sensor that can only be activated by a small child or animal when performing movements and emitting body heat within its patrol range.

POOL MOUNTED PASSIVE INFRARED MOTION DETECTORS

Pool mounted passive infrared motion detectors combine all of the important features found in other devices and are very affordable. Each unit simultaneously detects both motion and heat of anyone passing by and will not give any false readings for inanimate objects. With this device, a perimeter fence is not an integral part of the system as it is with most other systems. This key-operated unit runs on batteries or a DC power adapter and has a 24-hour warning signal for low battery power. With a 110-decibel micro siren, this is also the loudest alarm on the market and can be heard 50-yards away. These alarms cover an 8.5-yard radius and a 150-degree area.

ANTI-ENTRAPMENT EQUIPMENT

Suction entrapment can occur when a swimmer gets pulled down by the suction of a pool or hot tub drain. If this happens, the victim can get their hair, limbs, or other body parts trapped and pulled toward the drain.

A Safety Vacuum Release System — or SVRS for short — is an automatic suction force release system. When a drain becomes blocked, the SVRS provides a rapid vacuum release. This quickly frees anyone whose body or limb is trapped on the drain. An SVRS works whether or not there is a cover on the drain, and does not interfere with the pump function. Once installed, an SVRS requires little or no maintenance. It is recommended to have a pool professional install the SVRS.

Pool Anti-Entrapment Device

A pool safety drain cover works to prevent the powerful suction of a pool drain from making a complete seal that could trap a person’s body against the drain, or entangle hair. Safety drains cover the main drain of a pool, which is the suction outlet at the bottom or side of a pool that conducts water to a recirculating pump.  For more information about the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act and preventing entrapment, visit http://www.poolsafely.gov/pool-spa-safety-act/.

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