Pool Safety Tips - The Pros and Cons of Pool Covers

by Pool Builders on 04-18-2012 in Articles

Many swimming pool covers can prevent child drownings, and are clearly designed and advertised as such. Others, however, can significantly increase the risk of preventable death.

In June 2009, a woman and her two toddler sons drowned while swimming in a partially covered pool and becoming trapped under the cover. By accidentally surfacing into a cover above, it's all too easy for swimmers to find themselves unable to breathe, disoriented and entangled.

Partial covering isn't the only danger. Any soft cover can present a threat from any direction. In another incident, two young girls leapt onto a mesh pool cover (which, to an untrained eye, might well have resembled a trampoline). Despite being at a crowded party and surrounded adults, they died silently, held in place by water pressure from all directions, and were only found and recovered (with great difficulty) 20 minutes later.

It's a sadly familiar story. Cats, dogs, children too young to know better (and even strong adult swimmers) have all lost their lives to

Before making your purchase, there are two essential questions to ask yourself. While seemingly very obvious, it always bears repeating:

Question 1: Is the pool cover designed for safety?

The key question is an obvious one. The simple fact is that soft pool covers are not designed with safety in mind.

  • Solar pool covers are designed to warm the pool by absorbing and containing the heat of sunlight. It also potentially prevents evaporation.
  • Mesh covers generally used are for convenience: protecting from leaves and covering it during winter.

This is not to imply all manufacturers are oblivious to the danger. Many modern soft pool covers are tough enough to withstand the weight of a small pet or child. While this safety buffer is reassuring - and has undoubtedly saved lives - there is still a lot that can go wrong. A mistake in installation or any extra weight could be enough for it to backfire.

Question 2: Is it worth the risk?

A hard pool cover - specifically designed for safety, and with a proper rating from a trusted authority - is a necessity for any family pool. However, pool owners without young children may not feel the need to go the extra mile.

In these cases, it's worth asking some serious questions. Is there even a remote chance that a child could visit your property? Could pets, guests or wandering children find themselves in the area? Is it worth the small-but-notable risk that even a capable adult swimmer could find themselves in danger? And would the extra peace of mind genuinely improve your day-to-day mood?

For a safety-minded pool owner, it's all or nothing. As one widely circulated email ends: "Let them pick leaves out of their pools, not off their children's graves."

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