Building a New Pool
Designing and building a new swimming pool is an opportunity to create something fun and exciting for the whole family to enjoy. Yet it is also incumbent upon us to build the safest pool possible, not just for ourselves, but for the future residents of our homes.Building code mandate safety features for new pools – such as covered drains and anti suction and entanglement devices. I want to focus on design features which will help improve safety and ensure peace of mind without escalating the cost. These features will help prevent a child reaching the pool accidentally and help her rescue herself should she need to.
When building a pool, most of us will use a contractor who will design, project manage and co-ordinate sub contractors. It’s essential that your contractor understands that safety is a key concern for you.
When starting your design concept think about the space around the pool and how it will be used. Identify a “safe area” and “pool side area” divided by the pool fence. When allocating space to each area think about the activities in each. Where will you locate the barbecue and dining area? Is there space for the children to play? How does the aspect of your location affect position of lounge chairs to be in or out of the sun? Allocate space on the pool side with seating so adults have a pool side vantage point from which to watch the children. It’s important that there is access to the back yard without having to go through the Pool Area.
When it comes to the pool itself, ask “what will be the level of water to the edge”?. Anything more than 6” is a long way for a small child to have to reach up. Grab bars can provide additional safety at the water level and double up as an exercise bar for the adults. A textured or bull nose edge around the pool provides a better grip for small hands.
If your pool is to be “landscaped” with a high wall at the back – “shelves” or “swim outs” can be added as points of rest.
“Beach” areas are great for toddlers to paddle in and become accustomed to the water. Where the shallow end gives way to deeper water, a gradual drop off will help prevent children from “falling” out of their depth. Colorful mosaics can be used delineate areas such as the deep end. Children can be told – “don’t swim past the Dolphin” or “you can only jump at the turtle”
Some thought should also be given to the pool deck. A concrete deck provides a solid base for the pool fence. Brick pavers are a popular finish for pool decks. These are normally laid on a dirt base but being just 2 ½” thick usually don’t provide the same support and may require additional concrete “footers”.
If you can afford “state of the art” safety – now is the time to consider installing an automatic self closing pool cover that, at a touch of a button will cover your pool and impress your neighbors! Such covers also keep in the heat and reduce chemical use and may pay for themselves over the years.
If you are building a pool, The Pool Safety Resource can help you “build safety into the design”.