Pool professionals can recommend a number of pool safety products to homeowners for added layers of protection
It’s not an uncommon concern, but pool safety doesn’t often become a priority for homeowners until they’re brought face-to-face with tragedy or the scare of a lifetime. Mike Tellegen, owner of The Pool & Spa Medic in Molalla, Oregon, recalls the time he received a call from a mother who, after finding a door ajar and her daughter in the shallow end of their pool, called Tellegen to discuss safety fencing.
happened,” he says, “but the
mother was frazzled.”
For pool professionals to truly aid prospective clients, they
should know what safety products are out there, what’s required and how to
offer the best protection against accidents.
Pool pros should start by looking into local safety regulations, says Reggie Baudoin, co-owner and licensed pool contractor for Bask Pools + Outdoors in Lafayette, Louisiana. “And always comply with national ANSI and PHTA standards,” Baudoin says. “The best practice is to always put safety and integrity first. It is our job as the swimming pool experts to educate the homeowners on safety standards, the importance of these requirements and a proper plan of action.”
Once pool pros are familiar with local codes and national
standards, education on safety products is the next step. “Not only has the swimming pool industry
grown, but the products are becoming more complex, requiring a lot of knowledge
to be able to install, troubleshoot and repair them,” says Ken Gregory,
compliance and safety manager at Pentair. “The advantages of a well-trained and informed workforce are safer,
happier pool owners and that’s priceless.”
From the ground up, the pool build and equipment installed are the first layer of protection, as laid out in the International Pool and Spa Code — a national standard every pool company employee should know. Pool equipment manufacturers have many versatile products that comply with the standard, the most common being pool pumps with a built-in safety vacuum release system and drain covers/suction outlets.
The IntelliFlo pump monitors the flow at the suction outlet and
automatically shuts down the pump if it detects change in the flow. “Many older pools have only one suction outlet, the main drain,”
Gregory says. “For these
pools to be compliant with the ICC/PHTA/ANSI 7 Entrapment Standard, they can
use our pump with the built-in SVRS.”
Star Guard Drain Cover
Gregory says this drain cover has been tested to the highest
requirements under ICC/PHTA/ANSI 16 Standard for suction fittings used in pools
and spas. “By using an
approved suction outlet cover and making sure that the maximum flow does not
exceed the approved max for the cover, the pool industry has reduced these type
of accidents to nearly zero in the last 10 years,” he adds.
The ePump’s ultra-high efficiency motor has eight variable speeds
and enables cooler, quieter operation and extended motor life. It utilizes an
ANSI/ASME A112.19.17 certified SVRS that aids in the prevention of full body
entrapment hazards in compliance with VGBA.
The Vac-Alert Model VA-2000S is designed for submerged suction
applications, where the circulating pump suction is below the level of the pool
water surface. Model VA-2000L is for suction lift applications, where the
circulating pump suction is either at or above the level of the pool water
But pool equipment is only the first line of defense. “It’s important to understand that
an SVRS device will not [always] protect against hair entrapment because hair
stuck in a drain or tangled in a drain cover may not restrict flow,” Gregory
says, “so the SVRS device may
not automatically shut off the pump.”
Other safety products can help fill the gaps of uncertainty.
“A solid pool cover that is maintained properly is the safest singular [pool safety product] choice in my book,” says Lorenzo Villa Jr., pool and spa technician for JB’s Pool & Pond Service in Upland, California.
There are three main options when it come to pool covers: Pool
nets, mesh manual covers and automatic covers. Pool nets, while manually
removed and replaced between swims, provide protection from open water. Mesh
covers are typically used during the off season, when the pool is closed.
Automatic pool covers remove the manual element when covering the pool between
safety covers are a good option for six months out of the year when pools are
not being used, during the summer months they do not provide safety,” says
Michael Shebek, owner and president of Automatic Pool Covers. His concern is
that pool pros offering APC report most homeowners won’t take the time to
re-cover a pool with a mesh cover between uses. “An automatic pool cover provides safety due to the convenience of
being able to open and close it at the push of a button in 45 seconds… and
always having the cover closed when the pool is not in use.”
LaMont Drechsel, vice president and general manager of
Cover-Pools, Inc., a Zodiac Pool Systems company, says that with an automatic
cover “you get peace of mind
with the simple turn of a key. It acts as a horizontal fence for your pool,
preventing access by children, pets and uninvited visitors. And, while there’s
no substitute for proper supervision, your pool can be protected even when
you’re not around. It’s a safety barrier that no pool should be without.”
President and CEO LeeAnn Donaton says Loop-Loc covers are
typically used when the pool is closed. “Our covers are built super-strong, using the highest quality
materials and workmanship,” she says. “Securely anchored into the [pool surround], a Loop-Loc safety cover
puts an unbreakable ‘lock’ on pools. Our exclusive, computer-aided design
ensures a perfect, custom fit for any shape or size of pool. The covers exceed
ASTM standards, and year after year, receive the UL seal of approval for safety
swimming pool covers.”
The Katchakid swimming pool safety net is specifically designed
as a barrier to help protect children from exposed, open water. Like an
oversized tennis racket, the winter-safe UV stabilized pool net is stretched
over the pool and anchored to deck-flush mounted fasteners. Versatile and
adaptable, the Katchakid net can accommodate most water features and is
installed to meet ASTM safety codes.
Tellegen believes that all enclosed pool areas with a gate should
have working self-latching and closing mechanisms. “I always comment and repeat: ‘Save a life.
Close the pool gate,’ ” he
Tellegen recommends Baby Loc by Loop-Loc to customers, but says
he doesn’t get calls for pool fence installations often, unfortunately. “I think [Baby Loc] provides
absolute peace-of-mind for a reasonable cost, where a more permanent style may
be too expensive for most households,” he says. “But there is no such thing as ‘too expensive’ when it comes to the
safety of a child.”
For homeowners with a larger budget, Russell Stroman, owner of
RDS Construction in Dallas, Texas, recommends a glass fence. His brand of
choice is Aquaview Fencing. “My
clients are always looking for a modern and durable product that raises their
property value,” he says.
“When it comes
to keeping kids safe, there’s no substitute for adult supervision, but no
parent can be everywhere, every minute,” Donaton says. “Baby-Loc is a convenient, cost-effective
way to help deter toddlers from gaining access to a swimming pool, raised deck
or dock. It’s built strong, built to last and can be put up or taken down in
transparent removable mesh pool fence is made of Textilene mesh panels that are
resistant to mildew, abrasion and sunlight so they will not rip, shrink or fade
and kids can’t poke through or climb them. “Our technicians are trained to install the 15-foot sections of
panels in a configuration that works for homeowners — either free standing or
incorporating existing structures such as exterior walls,” says Clare Esson,
sales director for Katchakid. Self-latching, self-closing, key-lockable gates
are also available.
While Aquaview sells to both homeowners and pool builders
directly, builders can become licensed installers and dealers. Aquaview uses
half-inch tempered safety glass, which is six times stronger than regular
glass, to help protect against shattering. The fences are climb resistant, with
panels up to 5 feet tall, and have self-closing and self-latching gates that
come with key locks.
fences offer an open concept aesthetic,” says Jordan Goodman, founder and CEO
of Aquaview. “They enhance
your pool and landscape design while providing a safe and sleek modern touch.
The clear views allow homeowners the ability to monitor children and pets in
and around the pool.”
POOL AND DOOR ALARMS
Pool alarms add another layer of protection, but they should not
be the only one. “Many
variables can alter the performance and accuracy of these systems,” Baudoin
says. “While pool alarms are
beneficial while in range of the receiver, charged and properly positioned in
the pool and not tampered with, these are some factors that can also cause them
In addition, many codes require doors and windows that lead to a
pool to have alarms. Customers who have whole-home security systems should
already have this capability, but there are several after-market products
available as well. These can also be added to gates.
Pool alarm products range from wearable monitoring systems and
surface alarms to artificial intelligence-based units installed in the pool.
operates on a simple premise of watching the child and not the water,” says
Corinne Zemla, vice president of RJE Technologies in Irvine, California. With
Safety Turtle, a child wears a locking wristband and a small base sits in a
window overlooking the pool. If the Turtle is submerged, it emits a radio
signal that triggers the alarm at the base.
The whole unit is transportable (for travel) and homeowners can
have multiple Turtles with one base. While online sales are limited, pool pros
can buy directly from the company with a MAP policy agreement. A minimum order
of 10 kits qualifies for wholesale pricing.
The Coral Manta 3000 is mounted in the corner of the pool with a
tube that goes into the water. There is a camera at the end of the tube that
constantly monitors the water, feeding data to the artificial intelligence
computer. Based upon the homeowner’s responses to alerts, the AI continually
learns what detections are people versus items in order to send increasingly
“It keeps on
tracking everybody in the pool and the moment it sees that someone stopped
moving, with their head under the water for 15 seconds, it will set off a long
and loud alarm,” says Eyal Golan, founder and CEO of Coral Detection Systems.
All alerts also go to the user’s phone with a photo attached, so the homeowner
can see what the unit sees and determine if it is, in fact, an emergency.
Villa, Baudoin and Tellegen agree it’s the responsibility of the
pool professional to inform homeowners of the importance of these safety
products, be sure their pool complies with local and national safety
regulations and encourage as many safety precautions as possible.
safety, which still does not bring your risk level all the way down to zero, I
suggest multiple layers of safety devices,” Villa says. “As many as the customer can afford. While
pool pros cannot legally require a homeowner to purchase some safety items,
they should never downplay the importance of safety, nor accept any work where
a customer insists on a build that is below legally required safety standards.
Especially if it is in the interest of saving money.”
The same goes for service professionals: If a homeowner refuses
to replace or install safety equipment required by code or that you feel is
necessary to ensure safety, walk away.
In addition to safety product recommendations, the staff at Bask
Pools educates customers on the importance of supervision and takes it one step
further by providing eight free swim lessons to the homeowner’s family upon
completion of a pool build. These private lessons are with experienced swim
instructors in an indoor pool facility so that the lessons can take place no
matter the weather situation.
“Having a pool
in your backyard can provide a lifetime of memories,” Baudoin says, “but we want to make sure that we
are part of keeping everyone safe as well.”