Pools are great amenities for apartment complexes. They tend to attract more tenants and can provide a fun place to relax or exercise. However, as the owner or manager of an apartment complex with a pool, it is your responsibility to ensure that the pool is safe for everyone, especially children.
Swimming poses a high risk for children. Data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows that every year, some 300 preschoolers and toddlers drown in pools and spas, while 3,000 are injured and hospitalized. According to the Kansas Journal of Medicine, among children from one to 14 years old, drowning is the second top cause of death from injury. Safe Kids USA notes that it is the top cause of death from injury for children from one to four years old.
The Pool and Spa Safety Act
The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, signed in 2007, requires all states to have regulations covering swimming safety. Enforcement of the Act is the responsibility of the CPSC. It covers all public and private pools, although rules are stricter for public pools.
Apartment building pools are considered public pools. Following are the minimum requirements of the Act that are applicable to pools in apartment buildings.
Drains must be fitted with anti-entrapment systems or devices that comply with the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8. Standard. If there are multiple main drains, these must be no less than three feet apart. Pools installed on or beyond December 19, 2008, must comply with one of the following standards:
- having no main drain
- having more than one main drain
- having at least one unblockable drain
Ensure that you check with your state and municipality for other local requirements.
Additional Pool Safety Measures
There are a few more things you can do to make sure your apartment’s pool is as safe as possible for young swimmers. The pool area must be well-lit. This will help prevent accidents by making it easier for people to see where they are going. Ensure that the entire area around the pool, pool steps, and the pool’s bottom are slip-proof.
Follow other CPSC recommendations for pools. This is your best line of defense against accidents.
Pool Fence and Gate
While the Swimming Pool Act requires a fence only around outdoor residential pools, it makes sense to also install this around your apartment’s pool if you accept tenants with young children. This will prevent unsupervised young children from gaining access to the pool.
The CPSC recommends a fence height of at least four feet with clearance underneath of not more than two inches and fence openings of not more than four inches. The fence must be impossible for children to crawl under or squeeze through and difficult to climb over. There must be gates that swing away from the pool. They must be self-latching, with the latches facing the pool and located above a small child’s reach. Do not place tables, chairs, or other objects that children can climb on near the fence or gate. If the pool is above the ground, ladders or steps leading to it must likewise be secured.
Ensure that a phone is installed near the pool. Display clearly written emergency procedures in the pool area, including emergency numbers. Provide rescue equipment that is kept accessible beside the pool. This can include a rescue pole with a shepherd’s crook or a ring buoy with a line attached. Ensure that tenants know how to use the rescue equipment.
Enforce strict rules about children’s pool use and distribute the information to all tenants. These rules must also be prominently displayed in the pool area. The rules should disallow running and pushing by the pool. Adults must not be allowed to drink alcohol by the pool.
Children must always be accompanied by adults, even when a lifeguard is present. Adult companions must closely watch children, including those wearing floaties for kids or other flotation devices. These assistive gear are great for enabling children who do not know how to swim to float and enjoy the water. However, they are not replacements for adult supervision.
All flotation devices, toys, and other objects must be removed from the pool after use.
Keep Your Apartment Pool Safe
Pools are a great amenity for apartment rentals, but they come with a responsibility to keep them safe for tenants. By following the guidelines in this article, you can make sure that your pool is as safe as possible for everyone who uses it, especially young children. With the right safety measures in place, everyone can enjoy the pool without worry.