A woman practicing pool safety while floating on a raft.Swimming is the perfect summer activity, offering a refreshing way to stay cool. However, it's important to be aware of the potential risks that come with a swimming pool. As a board member overseeing your community's operations, it’s important to stay up to date on pool safety practices. Keep your community safe this summer by following these 6 safety tips.

Tip #1. Establish the rules and communicate them to residents

Set expectations by establishing and sharing swimming pool safety guidelines. The rules should be easy to understand and placed prominently in the pool area for all residents and guests.  

Below are a few examples of common community pool rules.

  • No running in the pool area

Running on wet and slippery surfaces increases the likelihood of slipping, falling, and suffering injuries such as cuts, bruises, or even more severe accidents like head trauma. By enforcing a "no running" rule, you can reduce the risk of slip-and-fall incidents, and help maintain a safe environment for everyone in the pool area.

  • No swimming alone

Swimming alone poses significant risks. If trouble arises while swimming alone, no one is there to help or alert others (for example, if you experience muscle cramps or any other physical distress). These types of medical incidents can quickly escalate. Adhering to the “no swimming alone” rule ensures someone else will be around should unforeseen circumstances arise.

  • No swimming in inclement weather

The pool can become dangerous if the weather is stormy while you’re swimming. Reduced visibility and lightning strikes pose the risk of accidents and injury. It’s essential to prioritize safety and avoid swimming during adverse weather conditions.

  • No horseplay

Pool areas should be treated as safe and controlled environments. Engaging in horseplay, such as pushing or shoving, can cause injuries if someone inadvertently causes someone else to slip, fall, or collide with the hard surface of the pool. By maintaining a strict "no horseplay" policy, everyone in and around the pool can enjoy a more secure setting, reducing accident risk and promoting responsible behavior.

“Make sure the rules are easily accessible to residents by posting them not just in the pool area but in your newsletter or on your resident website,” said Dante Chiabra, vice president at FirstService Residential. “Ensure residents take these rules seriously by enforcing them consistently.”

Want some additional tips for creating policies? Read: Association Policy 101: How to Make Rules without Making Enemies

Tip #2. Know the laws and regulations in your area

Keeping up to date on all current state and local regulations is essential to ensure compliance with community swimming pool laws, which vary by state. For example, in Florida, residential swimming pools must be enclosed by a barrier. Your association may also require additional pool rules specific to your condo or community. Work with your property management partner and association's attorney to ensure you are up to date and compliant with these rules and local laws.

Tip #3. Keep your pool maintained and budget accordingly

Proper swimming pool maintenance is essential for resident and guest safety, longevity and aesthetics. Routine maintenance should be performed on equipment to prevent accidents and injuries. This includes inspecting water quality for bacteria and algae prevention, monitoring water levels, and inspecting and repairing pool equipment such as ladders, diving boards, and drains. It is also essential to set aside a budget for swimming pool maintenance to cover expenses such as chlorine, test kits, reagents, draining, and equipment cleaning.  Budgeting for unplanned maintenance expenses in case of a malfunction or breakdown is also wise.

“Maintaining your pool is not just about aesthetics, it’s about ensuring the safety of the residents and guests,” said Katharine Effron, vice president at FirstService Residential. “Neglecting maintenance can also lead to expensive equipment breakdowns, which require costly repairs that could make the pool unusable. By following a regular maintenance routine, monitoring chemical levels, cleaning the pool regularly, and inspecting the equipment, you can create a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone to enjoy.”

Tip #4. Encourage swimming lessons

According to the American Red Cross, 54% of all Americans either can’t swim or lack basic water survival skills. Being near a pool can be dangerous for someone who can't swim. By promoting swimming skills, your board can encourage residents to become better equipped to handle themselves in and around bodies of water to prevent drowning. You may even wish to consider hosting swimming and water safety classes in your community’s pool. Furthermore, residents are more likely to use the pool if they feel confident about their swimming abilities. This is a great way to build a sense of community and more social interactions among neighbors. A thriving pool area can become a focal point for community gatherings and activities, fostering a more connected and enjoyable living environment. 

Be sure to check with your association attorney about potential liability issues and with your insurance agent about the proper coverage. 

Download our pool safety infographic for a summary of pool safety tips.

Tip #5. Encourage or offer CPR or emergency training 

In a drowning emergency, basic first aid and CPR training can save a life. Your local Red Cross and city or county emergency management officials may be able to schedule and facilitate training for your community. Ask your property management company for guidance.  

Tip #6. Keep an eye on small children

Drowning, a significant risk for young children, is usually a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing and yelling we typically see in movies rarely happens in real life. By closely supervising children in or around the pool, adults can quickly respond to emergencies, prevent accidents, and provide timely assistance if needed. Even a momentary distraction can lead to a tragic outcome, so constant vigilance is crucial for ensuring the safety of children in and around the pool.

As a board member, you want your residents to enjoy the amenities that drew them to your community. Understanding the importance of establishing rules to keep your pool safe will help you accomplish this. With the proper safety guidelines, your pool can be a cool haven of fun and relaxation for your residents all summer.

Contact FirstService Residential for guidance on improving pool safety in your community.

Monday August 21, 2023