A Brief History of the Swimming Pool Safety Cover

by Pool Builders on 11-14-2008 in Articles

Mesh Safety Covers

Since the introduction of the modern swimming pool in the U.S., homeowners have been using many different methods to keep unwanted visitors out of their swimming pools. They would place large tarps or canvas over the pools and weight down the perimeters with bricks.

In 1941 a company in Indiana began marketing and selling a simple tarp pool cover made of vinyl-laminated polyester which came in one color; blue. The cover was weighted down around the perimeter with bags of sand or water. These covers worked fine at keeping the animals and debris out of the pool but would eventually fill up with snow and rain during the winter months, causing the edges to pull out from under the perimeter weights and eventually end up in the swimming pool. Something better had to be done.

As the story goes, in 1957 a pool owner found a dead skunk floating in the accumulated water on his solid vinyl swimming pool cover. Realizing the need for a product that would allow for the accumulated rain water and snow melt to drain while still keeping out kids, animals and debris, he began to experiment with a light weight trampoline-style material. This material would be stretched taut across the pool surface and held in place with anchors inserted into the surrounding swimming pool deck. In 1960 he and a partner received a patent for the first mesh safety cover. This was the beginning of a new industry which is still going strong today.

The company from Indiana which sold the solid vinyl covers in the 40's began making their own version of the mesh style covers in the mid 1960's. The company added straps, attached around the perimeter of the cover for tie-downs. Other companies joined in, adding such innovations as solid brass deck anchors and stainless steel springs to allow the covers to be pulled yet even tighter and allow for heavier loads. Today there are dozens of mesh safety cover manufacturers supplying quality products and pool safety worldwide.

The Automatic Advantage

The mesh safety covers worked well for the off season when the pools were not in use, but were not convenient to use during the swimming season. Taking the covers on and off could take as long as an hour. Automation was the answer.

In the mid 50's, a frustrated pool builder from Salt Lake City started looking for a way to keep children and debris out of the swimming pools when not in use. During a ski trip he got his inspiration from the tow line used to at the time to move skier up the mountain slopes. After returning home he made several prototypes that worked so well he quit his job building swimming pools and started building automatic swimming pool safety covers full-time. In 1962 he founded the first automatic swimming pool safety cover manufacturing company. They are still in business today, making them the oldest in the industry.

Several other companies have spawned from this original one, adding many new innovations and designs, from electric systems to hydraulic and automatic to manual.

The basic concept of all automatic swimming pool covers is the same. They consist of a tracking and pulley system which the vinyl cover material is carried through and a powertrain unit which provides for the movement. Many improvements have been made to these components over the years providing stronger and more reliable systems. It will be exciting to see what the future will bring.

The swimming pool safety cover industry is certainly here to stay.

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