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Pool Safety

Safety guidelines that will help everyone enjoy their leisure hours safely

This section presents basic information on general pool safety as well as pool equipment and maintenance safety tips. Click on the links below for more information.

For Adults and Children


  • Know your swimming limits and stay within them. Don’t try to keep up with a stronger skilled swimmer or encourage others to keep up with you. Keep an eye on weaker swimmers—if they appear tired, encourage them to get out of the water and rest.
  • Watch out for the “dangerous too’s”—too tired, too cold, too much sun, too much strenuous activity. Get out of the water immediately if any of these situations occur.
  • Stay off the main drain. Do not sit or place any part of your body on the main drain. The suction from the pump could trap you underwater and cause serious injury or death.
  • Use common sense regarding food and beverages while swimming.
    • Do not chew gum or eat while you swim; you could easily choke.
    • Never drink alcohol and swim.
    • Use common sense about swimming after eating. If you have had a large meal, it is wise to let digestion get started before doing strenuous activity such as swimming.
  • Use plastic instead of glassware in the pool area.
  • Obey “No Diving” signs. A general rule is to enter feet first into water than head-first.
  • Never dive into an aboveground pool.
  • Make sure the pool cover is completely lifted off the pool. Never walk on the pool cover.
  • Watch the weather: Know local weather conditions and prepare for electrical storms. Because water conducts electricity, stop swimming as soon as you see or hear a storm.
  • Keep rescue equipment (pole, rope and personal floatation devices) by the pool.
  • Keep a phone poolside. Program the phone with emergency phone numbers and/or post emergency phone numbers in your pool area.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic first aid. Post CPR instructions in your pool area.


  • ALWAYS supervise children when they are in or around your pool or any water environment (stream, bath tub, toilet, bucket of water), no matter what skills your child has acquired and no matter how shallow the water.
  • Install physical barriers around your pool and spa to prevent access by young children.
    • Fences should be at least four feet high with self-closing, self-latching gates, which are kept in good working order. Don’t leave any furniture near the fence so that a child could climb over into the pool area.
    • If your house forms one side of the barrier to the pool, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be equipped with alarms that sound when the doors are unexpectedly opened.
    • For additional protection, use a power safety cover (a motor-powered barrier placed over the water area).
    • For aboveground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured or removed when the pool is not in use.
  • Keep children off the main drain. The suction from the pump could trap them underwater.
  • Don’t leave toys in the water. Toys can lure a child into the pool.
  • Enroll your children in a water safety course and/or swimming classes.
  • Never use flotation devices or inflatable toys to replace parental supervision.
  • Do not use air-filled swimming aids as a substitute for approved life vests.
  • Do not allow children to eat or chew gum while in the water to prevent choking.
  • Parents and anyone supervising children should know cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic first aid. Post CPR instructions in your pool area.
  • Don’t assume young children will use good judgment and caution around the water. Children must be constantly reminded to walk slowly in the pool area and only to enter the water with you.
  • Watch the weather: Know local weather conditions and prepare for electrical storms. Because water conducts electricity, stop swimming as soon as you see or hear a storm.
  • After you are done swimming, secure the pool so children can’t enter.


  • CHECK the injured person
  • CALL?your local emergency number
  • CARE for the person until help arrives

Chemical Safety

Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on all packaging carefully. Be familiar with emergency procedures, so that in the event of a chemical spill or accident, you will be able to act quickly.


  • Keep chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
  • Store in their original containers. Do not use contents of unlabeled containers.
  • Containers should always be kept closed when not in use.
  • Be sure storage area is well ventilated.
  • Never store oxidizers and acid near each other. Oxidizers will release chlorine gas if they come in contact with acids.
  • Do not store liquids above powders or solids. Do not stack containers.
  • Do not store materials or chemicals above your head.
  • Do not store pool chemicals near gasoline, fertilizers, herbicides, grease, paints, tile cleaners, turpentine, or flammable materials. This tip is especially important when pool chemicals are stored in sheds or small storage rooms.
  • Do not reuse containers.


  • Always read and follow the chemical’s instructions to ensure safe use of chemicals.
  • Wear appropriate protective equipment and clothing including gloves, footwear and eyewear.
  • Handle chemicals in a well ventilated area.
  • Use separate, clean metal or plastic measuring cups for each chemical to transfer or measure chemicals. Never use wood scoops.
  • Protect chemicals from moisture and water—such as a cup of water or coffee. Even putting the wet scoop back in the pail may cause a reaction.
  • When applicable, always dilute chemicals by adding to water, never the other way around unless the container’s label instructs you to do so.
  • Do not mix different chemicals together.
  • Do not put spilled chemicals back into their containers.
  • Do not smoke when handling chemicals.
  • Do not expose to heat or flames.


  • EYES: If you get any chemicals in your eyes, flush them immediately with water for 15 minutes and get immediate medical attention. See instructions on the chemical packaging.
  • SKIN: If you get any chemicals on your skin, flush them immediately with water and get immediate medical attention.
  • INHALATION: If you have a burning sensation in your nose or throat, feel dizzy, nauseous or vomit, and/or have difficulty breathing while handling chemicals or after handling chemicals, get fresh air immediately and get immediate medical attention.
  • INGESTION: If any pool chemicals are swallowed, call the poison center immediately. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed.
  • FIRE: If a fire breaks out, do not use a “dry chemical” fire extinguisher. Only use large amounts of water. If you can’t extinguish the flame immediately, leave the area and call the fire department.
  • CHEMICAL SPILLS: Immediately clean up any chemical spills according to manufacturer’s directions. If a violent reaction has occurred, contact the fire department immediately and they will instruct you on steps to take until their arrival, if any.


Use of any electrical equipment such as underwater lights, deck lights, the pool pump or any other accessory can pose a safety threat to people in the water if the wiring is incorrect or faulty. Use the following safety precautions to avoid electrocution or electrical shock:


  • Always use a trained technician for installation, service or repair of any electrical wiring or equipment. Have your technician verify these points:
    • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) for the power supply circuit for each piece of electrical equipment, including utility pumps to drain the pool water. The GFCI will disconnect the power supply if any electricity leaks are detected.
    • Make sure your installation meets all local and national codes.
    • Make sure all electrical equipment is grounded and all metal objects (ladders, diving platforms, etc.) are electrically bonded together.
  • Never use extension cords around a pool or spa.
  • Never enter the water when a utility pump is running.
  • Never put an aluminum vacuum handle into the pool.
  • Never swim in your pool or spa during an electrical storm.

Gas & Propane

LP gas (propane) and natural gas are safe as long as they are used correctly. But if used incorrectly they can cause a fire, explosion or asphyxiation. Make sure to follow these safety precautions:


  • Always use a trained technician for installation, service or repair of your gas heater. Have your installer verify these points at installation:
    • Make sure there is no leakage of exhaust gases into any building. Improper, damaged or rusted-out venting can cause serious injuries, illness or death from carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Make sure your installation meets all local and national codes.
  • If you suspect a gas leak or smell gas, immediately clear the area and call the gas company from a telephone away from the area of the suspected leak.

Pump Suction


Your circulating pump creates a strong vacuum at the main drain at the bottom of your pool. In fact the suction is so strong, it can trap adults or children underwater.


Read the cleaner or vacuum owner’s manual for safe operating information.


  • An emergency shut-off switch for the pool circulation pump and the spa jet pump in an easily accessible, obvious place near the pool or spa. Make sure bathers know where it is, and how to use it in case of emergency.
  • At least two suction outlets from the pool to the main circulating pump.
    • Either one of these outlets should be able to supply the pump by itself without exceeding the flow rating of its cover. (Many above ground pools use the skimmer as the suction outlet, and have no main drain; these pools don’t require a second suction outlet.)
    • Each outlet must have a cover fastened down with screws, be designed so that they won’t trap body parts or hair, and be certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
    • Plastic deck and drain covers may deteriorate, and crack or break from exposure to sunlight or weather. Routinely replace them every 3-4 years.

Routine Maintenance

Routine maintenance helps keep your pool and spa system operating safely and efficiently.


Have your pool professional perform the following tasks regularly:

  • Make sure that each suction outlet has a cover that is installed correctly, screwed down, unbroken, and certified for that application.
  • Make sure that all skimmer covers are in place, screw-fastened and unbroken.
  • Make sure that the filter pressure gauge is in good working condition, and that the filter pressure is within the operating range specified in your filter owner’s manual.
  • Make sure that the pump and filter O-rings are sealing properly, and in good condition.
  • Bleed off accumulated air from the system, as described in your owner’s manual.
  • Empty the skimmer baskets and the pump strainer basket of debris.
  • Remove any debris or obstructions from the main drain cover.
  • Remove obstructions and combustibles from around the pump motor air vents and heater top vents.
  • Make sure all chemicals are properly stored (away from equipment).
  • Make sure the heater is functioning properly.
  • Make sure there is no gas smell around the heater.
  • Make sure all grounding and bonding wires are connected, and in good condition.
  • Make sure all wiring connections are tight and clean, and all wiring and electrical equipment are in good condition.

Spas & Hot Tubs


  • ?Get out of the spa or hot tub immediately if you experience nausea, dizziness or fainting. These are signs of hyperthermia which can be fatal. Cool your body with cold towels or a cool shower. Call a doctor or 9-1-1 if the symptoms do not go away.
  • Keep the water temperature in your spa below 104°F (40°C). Age or health conditions (especially pregnancy) may require a lower temperature. Consult your physician for more information.
  • Never use the spa or hot tub if you are using alcohol or drugs. The combination of hot water and alcohol and/or drugs can cause dizziness, falling, unconsciousness or a heart attack.
  • Make sure your spa or hot tub has dual suction outlets (read Pump Suction for more information). All tub suction fittings should be certified to meet the current ASME/ANSI Standards that apply.
  • Never alter the electrical cord or plug on the spa system.
  • Never use an extension cord to connect a spa system to an existing electrical outlet. A spa system must operate from a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protected circuit or outlet. If in doubt, consult a licensed electrician.

Trapped Air

The piping and filter systems on pools and spas can trap and hold large bubbles of air until they build up pressure that can separate filters, strainers, and separation tanks. The following can help you avoid this situation.


  • Learn how to safely bleed the air out of your circulation system by reading your owner’s manuals carefully.
  • Never try to adjust or service your pool or spa filter unless you have read the owner’s manual and understand how to release all pressure from the system. Make sure to shut off power and release the pressure first!
  • When starting up the system after a period of non-use, re-read the start-up instructions in the owner’s manuals first.
  • Never connect your pool or spa filter system to a household water system. The pool equipment is designed to run at much lower pressures, and may split or burst if subjected to household water system pressure.
  • Make sure shut-off valves downstream of the filter remain open during system operation.
  • Make sure the pool skimmer is not sucking air (“vortexing”) as well as water. This can pull a large amount of air into the filter system, and it can be corrected by raising the pool water level, reducing the flow of water through the skimmer, or both.
  • Before using a vacuum or suction-side cleaner, submerge the hose completely and let it fill with water before connecting it to the pump suction outlet.