Outdoor Safety
Swimming Pool Safety Alert
Keep your family safe this summer


As the summer season sets in, swimming pools, whether inground or above, become a beehive of activity. They can also be a hazard, especially to children, if safety rules are ignored. Each year, about 260 children younger than 5 drown in swimming pools, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In addition, the suction from drains in swimming pools and spas can trap swimmers underwater. To help protect your family and guests, take the following steps.

General Pool Safety

• Place barriers completely around the pool, closely supervise young children and be prepared in case of an emergency.

• If a child is missing, always look first in the pool. Seconds count!

• Keep rescue equipment and a phone near the pool.

Water and Electricity Don’t Mix

• Know where all the electrical switches and circuit breakers for pool equipment and lights are located and how to turn them off.

• Refrain from swimming before, during or after thunderstorms.

• Have an electrician who is qualified in pool and spa repairs inspect and, if necessary, upgrade your pool.

• Ensure that all electrical wires and junction boxes are at least 5 feet away from water.

• Install ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) on underwater lighting circuits and on all outdoor receptacles and test GFCIs monthly.

• Use battery-operated appliances instead of cord-connected appliances in and around water.

Limit Access to the Water

• Gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of reach of small children.

• For above-ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured or removed when the pool is not in use.

Entrapment Dangers

• Never use a pool or spa with a missing or broken drain cover.

• Have a professional regularly inspect your pool or spa for entrapment or entanglement hazards.

• If someone is trapped against a drain, cut off the pump immediately. Instead of trying to pull the person away from the powerful suction, place a hand between the drain and the person’s body to break the seal.

Pool Your Savings

Did you know that the amount of energy used to operate the cleaning and filtering equipment of a pool for one swimming season can equal the energy used to power an average home for the same period?

Pool pumps typically range from 1/2 to 3 horsepower and run four to 10 hours a day, using about three times the electricity of a new refrigerator. Nationally, electricity for pool pumps is expected to be near 10 million kilowatt-hours in 2010.

One way to save is to replace your old single-speed pump with a variable-speed pump, according to the Cooperative Research Network. Such a pump can save up to 50 percent in electricity costs if run on the lowest speed, which is sufficient for standard maintenance. But the pump will have enough power for intensive use such as vacuuming or backwashing.

You could also consider installing a properly sized solar-powered version. A solar-powered pump can run on DC power supplied directly from the solar panels, resulting in more efficiency than typical AC pool pumps.

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