Pool Safety for HOA & Multiunits:  Are your residents at risk?

Pool Safety for HOA & Multiunits:  Are your residents at risk?

Pools are a great way to socialize with neighbors and friends. The safety of children in these locations requires a community effort. Those who maintain the pool must ensure that basic safety standards like clear water, appropriate lifesaving devices, fencing, gates and locks are appropriately maintained. With “layers of protection” in place, homeowner associations can ensure a safer oasis of family fun and relaxation and reduce potential liability.

Over 3,000 people in the United States drown unintentionally every year. More than 1 in 4 fatal drowning victims are children 14 and younger, and for every child that dies, another 3 receive emergency-department care for submersion injuries. Of those receiving emergency care, 40% require hospitalization. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among small children (1 to 4 years of age) and the second leading cause of death (after motor vehicle accidents) among children 1 to 14 years old.

Unfortunately, inadequate safety measures play a part in too many drowning and near-drowning cases every year. In the cases of drowning at public pools, typical hazards include inadequate supervision, failure to use proper procedures to save a drowning victim and a lack of the safety equipment required to save a drowning victim and access gates that do not meet code or are not functioning properly.

Facts & Statistics Considerations:

  • 52% of public pool drownings take place when no lifeguard is presen
  • 22% of all drownings were the result of environmental problems such as water clarity, sun glare and water depth.
  • There is a high incidence of drownings that occur when low numbers of bathers are present (28% occur with less than 10 bathers).
  • Over 50% of drownings occur in water less than 5 feet in depth.
  • Males are 4 ½ times more likely to be drowning victims than females.

All public and municipal pools need to comply with the minimum standards American National Standards Institute’s Minimum Standards for Public Swimming Pools, published by the YMCA and American Red Cross. The best-run facilities – those with the lowest rate of incident – also typically implement a comprehensive aquatic risk-management program that includes proactive standards, policies and procedures.

With the homeowner association ultimately responsible for the pool, how can you protect your residents, as well as yourselves?

  •     Most state and local statutes require, at minimum, a four foot fence around the pool and spa using.
  •     Gates should be self-closing and self-latching with the latch meeting ADA height requirements of 54”.
  •     Pool and spa gates should be inspected frequently and adjusted for alignment and tension to ensure they self-close and self-latch each time, every time.
  •     Both TruClose and SureClose (SF models) gate hinges are easily adjustable for self-closing force. 
  •     A magnetically triggered gate latch, like the MagnaLatch offer safe, reliable service and meets virtually all pool safety codes, and it is key lockable.  It is important for gate latches to be vertically and horizontally adjustable to ensure proper gate alignment.  External forces and seasonal ground settling can move gates out of alignment, affecting their ability to close properly.
  •     Pool rules should also be prominently displayed. Rules and regulations can be community specific and should always be board approved.
  •     Rescue equipment should be readily accessible and include a ring buoy, life hook and backboard. First aid kits should be visible and nearby.

Isolation fencing with properly functioning gates should be the first line of defense, but other steps can provide additional layers of prevention.  The National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA.org) offers several options for secondary barriers.  With layers of protection between your residents and your pool, you can give your homeowners years of safer relaxation and enjoyment and yourselves greater peace of mind.