Pools in the southern states and areas of mild winters don't usually winterize the pool, and don't usually cover the pool either. This can make winter pool safety more challenging, especially when the pool is not top of mind as it is during summer.
SAFETY COVERS: At a cost of $1-2 per sq. ft. for rectangle and $2-4 per sq. ft. for custom safety covers, for many sunbelt pools, a safety pool cover is the answer for increased winter pool safety. They also keep the pool clean and reduce chemical use and pool evaporation.
SAFETY NETS: At a cost of $2-4 per sq. ft., safety nets are dealer installed, and allow you to see the pool water while it is installed, while effectively preventing use by kids, pets or wildlife. Also easier to remove and reinstall than safety covers.
SAFETY FENCE: At a cost of $9-$15 per linear foot, removable pool safety fences can enclose the pool, or connect to existing walls or property fence during winter, and remove and roll-up for easy summer storage. Easy access to the pool for cleaning or chemical tests,
For the pool that is winterized, dangers can still exist around the pool. A safety pool cover (mesh or solid) will provide the strongest safety barrier during winter. For those that have a floating solid pool cover, there are several safety concerns you should be aware of.
SOLID POOL COVERS: They don't allow water to pass through to the pool, and if not pumped regularly to remove rain and snow melt, they quickly become a dark danger, like the photo on top of the page. Even automatic covers or solid safety covers are dangerous when not pumped off - but floating solid covers, the types that use water bags, are especially dangerous.
When a child or animals falls onto a floating solid cover, it quickly envelopes them, and pulls surface water towards them quickly. The cover wraps tightly around the legs and body, with the water weight inside the pool pressing in, and struggling only pulls you in deeper, like quicksand.
ABOVE-GROUND POOLS: Being elevated gives some measure of protection, but be sure to remove and store the pool ladder and any items that could be dragged next to the pool, to climb up the top rail level. For pools with a full surround deck, be sure to lock the safety gate or stairs, and consider a safety cover, if you have 2-3 feet of deck surrounding the pool. Aboveground pool fencing is another excellent barrier to entry.
FENCING: Aside from a safety cover, your pool fence is your best protection. Secondary fencing can be used to separate the back patio from the pool area.
DOOR ALARMS: If the back of your house is the 4th side to your pool fence, and the rear doors lead out to the pool, install Door Alarms on the back doors, to sound a loud alert if the back door is opened (when the pass thru button is not pushed).
Inspect your fence regularly for gaps, loose boards or leaning posts, and for gates that aren't padlocked, be sure that they are self-closing and self-latching.
Matt Spencer SPP Pool Expert