As many homeowners have discovered, adding a custom, private swimming pool to the backyard provides countless hours of fun and entertainment for people of all ages. However, never forget that an open body of water can pose a hazard if not handled correctly. This is especially critical to consider if you have kids.
While pool safety is important for everyone to understand and practice, kids can be especially vulnerable to potential dangers in an improperly maintained or protected swimming pool. The best way to keep your kids safe is a combination of safety training and special safety features to keep your pool safe. Let’s look at a few proven ways to protect your little ones.
Install Safety Features
Certain pool safety features, such as 4-foot high pool fencing in your backyard, are legally required. In addition to this basic precaution, consider adding a few extra safety features for an extra layer of protection. Ask your pool builder about adding a few things to your building plan:
- Closing and self-latching gate for the fence
- Pool cover
- Pool alarm
- Drain covers
Pro Tip: A swimming pool’s drain suction is too powerful for a small child to swim away from, whether it’s in your home pool or a public pool. If you visit a public pool and notice the drains are uncovered, it’s not worth the risk.
Prepare Your Kids
Do your kids know how to swim? If not, make sure they do! Swimming is more than just a fun summer activity–in an emergency scenario, knowing how to stay above water could easily save your child’s life. Sign your child up for swim lessons and encourage them to keep in practice.
Supervise Your Kids in the Pool
Even the most well-trained swimmer child is still a child. Their size and age make them vulnerable to unsafe pool conditions if they can’t properly swim or the pool isn’t properly maintained. Always keep an eye on your kids while they’re swimming, whether you’re at home or in public. It’s better to be a little too careful than to be careless.
Promote Pool Safety for Your Kids
A swimming pool adds monetary and entertainment value to your home and provides countless hours of fun. But make sure to keep safety in mind. With the proper safety features and precautions, your whole family can enjoy your pool safely for years to come.
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What custom backyard is complete without a fire pit? An open flame adds an exotic feel to your backyard parties and chases away mosquitoes with a light cloud of smoke. However, it’s always important to remember that at the end of the day, an open flame is still an open flame and must be handled with care. As you design your backyard features, keep fire pit safety at the forefront of your mind.
As cool as a fire pit is, if not handled correctly, it has the potential to be a dangerous addition to your backyard. Make sure that you and anyone else who will be using the firepit knows how to safely light, manage, and extinguish a fire. Use this guide to keep yourself and your partygoers safe while the fire pit is in use.
Remove Flammable Materials
Before lighting your fire pit, take a look at the area surrounding it. Is there anything that could potentially catch fire if sparks blew in that direction? Sweep twigs or other flammable debris out of the way to prevent the fire from spreading. A five-foot radius is a good rule of thumb. Additionally, double-check what you and others near the fire pit are wearing. Don’t wear clothing with long, loose parts (such as ties or scarves) that can hang into the fire pit if you lean too close.
Pro Tip: Many homeowners enjoy having furniture around the firepit to facilitate conversation. Make sure all the furniture you use for this is either flame-retardant or made of entirely fireproof materials.
Pay Attention to What’s Fueling the Fire
In general, there are a few flammable items that you should never use as fuel for your fire pit:
- Gasoline or other flammable liquids: These can splash out of the fire pit and present a serious hazard.
- Paper or trash: Burning paper has a tendency to pop and throw sparks out of the fire pit.
- Soft woods (cedar, pine, etc.): Like paper, these woods can pop and spark in a fire.
Extinguish the Fire Carefully
When you’re ready to put out the fire, douse the fire pit in water and stir the ashes with a shovel to make sure every coal is extinguished. As you clean the ashes out, be mindful of their temperature and how to properly dispose of them. Ashes can still retain enough heat to start a fire if exposed to flammable materials even after a couple of days. When you dispose of the ashes, avoid packing them in a cardboard box or paper bag to prevent spontaneous combustion.
Handling an Open Flame Safely
Fire pits are constructed with basic safety precautions in mind, so the chances of something going drastically wrong are low. However, managing the fire safely also depends on you to exercise caution and keep everything under control. With a little care and regards for fire pit safety, your fire feature is a perfectly safe and enjoyable addition to your backyard.
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A swimming pool provides the final touch of elegance and fun that your backyard needs. Of course, your pool can’t clean itself. Every so often, you’ll need to dedicate a certain amount of time to swimming pool cleaning to keep the water fresh and enjoyable to swim in.
Basic pool maintenance is an important part of installing and enjoying a swimming pool. While replacing parts or fixing major damage requires expert intervention, most pool cleaning tasks are simple enough for you to do on your own. If you take the time to maintain your pool water’s pH, clean the filters, keep leaves out of the pool, and maintain the overall setting, your pool is sure to stay clean and ready to use for quite some time.
Clear Fallen Debris
Leaves, dead bugs, twigs, and other debris will inevitably find their way into your pool from time to time, especially if you have a garden nearby. Make sure to regularly skim the top of the water with a pool net to remove these floating debris and keep them from clogging your pool filter. If your plants tend to shed a lot, you may have to do this almost daily. This quick cleaning solution just takes a few minutes, however, and involves a lot less time and money than replacing a damaged filtration system.
Clean the Pool Shell
Balancing your pool water’s pH and keeping debris out of the pool will go a long way toward keeping it clean. However, grime or minor algae growth will occasionally show itself. When you notice this happening, use an automatic cleaner in your pool to remove the grime and keep the shell clean. Ideally, you’ll only have to do this monthly.
Clean or Replace the Filters
Even if you do your best to keep leaves and bugs out of the water, your pool filters still pick up a lot of debris and grime. At least once a month, perhaps more often if your pool gets dirty quickly, make sure to remove and thoroughly clean your pool filters. Your owner’s manual has all the instructions you need to safely access the filters.
Maintain the Water Itself
An alkaline swimming pool allows for easier algae growth, while a slightly acidic pool may be uncomfortable to swim in. Fortunately, it’s easy to find pool pH kits that provide you with the exact pH of the water. Once you know if your water is too acidic or alkaline, consult a professional to see which chemicals to buy and restore balance.
Pro Tip: Makeup, sunscreen, and skin oils may leave a sheen on the top of your pool. Leave a clean tennis ball floating in the pool overnight to absorb the worst of the oil.
Stay on Top of Swimming Pool Maintenance
To keep your swimming pool usable and clean for as long as possible, make sure to perform regular maintenance checkups and clean the entire pool thoroughly. The work may be time-consuming, but once you’re finished, your pool will be much more pleasant and safe to use. It’s always worth the extra investment of time and effort into swimming pool cleaning to keep your pool looking good.
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Your swimming pool should match your home and your style. Of course, there’s no right or wrong way to design your pool, but some styles and shapes look more appealing than others. As you design your backyard, the best approach to planning your swimming pool is to decide which already-present features of your backyard or home you want to emphasize. A pool designed to complement what’s already there will look fantastic!
Popular Swimming Pool Decorations
Creating the perfect swimming pool could involve detailed planning and extensive renovations, or it could be as simple as adding a few underwater LED lights. Whatever your preference, these popular ideas are sure to make your pool stand out in the neighborhood.
- Lush and tropical
- Underwater lights
A modern-style swimming pool requires on defined shapes and a clean, unified color scheme. Some homeowners opt for neutral colors like grey or white for their modern pool. If you’re in love with the modern aesthetic, less is more! Stick to a particular shape and clean color for your modern pool area.
Easily moldable and customizable gunite pools are perfect for a serpentine design. Designed to mimic a snake’s curved body on the ground, these pool shapes invoke a sense of spontaneity in your backyard design. This style is perfect for anyone looking for a more eccentric style of swimming pool.
A round or gently curved swimming pool bordered by a flower garden conjures up images of a pond surrounded by nature in the woods. This pool design is sure to invite your family and guests to relax in a serene environment and enjoy the sunlight. Just make sure to be vigilant about cleaning–plants growing too close to the pool can shed leaves and pollen into the water.
4) Lush and Tropical
A swimming pool flanked by palm trees and tiki torches lets you enjoy your own personal tropical paradise without leaving home! Bring your dream vacation to your backyard with a tropical-themed swimming pool. Complete the atmosphere with a fire pit for evening cookouts.
5) Underwater Lights
Hot tubs or spas often come with underwater lights installed, but have you considered doing the same on your swimming pool? After the sun sets, a few strategically mounted LED lights give the water a magical glow. Give it a shot!
Pro Tip: Soft underwater lights are an important part of chromatherapy, the use of visible light to promote calm and overall wellness. This works equally well in your swimming pool as in your spa.
If you frequently entertain guests in your backyard, chances are you’ll need a pool and outdoor environment suited to handling a lot of people at one time. If this is the case, consider a few special features your guests are sure to love, such as a swim-up bar to serve drinks right at the pool’s edge. Add an outdoor kitchen and your party space is complete!
Creating Your Perfect Pool
As you work on a swimming pool design, consider how the completed pool will likely be used. Are you planning to entertain a lot of people, or is this mostly a passion project for yourself and your family? Your answer may influence just how large and elaborate your final swimming pool is. Start with these pool design ideas and work from there.
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Adding a swimming pool to your backyard represents a massive investment of both money and time. Consequently, you’ll want your pool to be as perfect as possible. When drawing up your ideas and consulting a professional pool builder, make sure to avoid these common pool design mistakes that can just cost you more money and make the whole project more difficult later on.
Don’t Make These Mistakes
Designing a swimming pool requires a significant amount of long-term planning. Future repairs or alterations to your backyard could mean even more costly and invasive work right after your main project is done. By avoiding these mistakes, you can keep your swimming pool project simple and streamlined:
- Ignoring entertaining space
- Not making a long-term plan
- Hiring a too specialized company
1) Ignoring Entertaining Space
Too many homeowners forget to think about their long-term plans for entertaining guests in the backyard. A swimming pool may be a fantastic addition to your home, but without planning your entertaining space around it, you’ll end up with an awkward backyard arrangement or simply not enough room for everything you want to do. Talk to your pool contractors about how often you host parties and how many people usually come, then plan your entire backyard arrangement around that information.
Pro Tip: Even if you don’t usually entertain guests, what about your family? Consider how often your family will use a pool or backyard space on a regular basis.
2) Not Making a Long-Term Plan
In the same vein, make sure you know reasonably well what you’re planning to do in your backyard long-term. Avoiding a long-term plan could end up making things more inconvenient and expensive for you in the long run. For instance, if you know you eventually want to install an outdoor kitchen, the pool construction crew will make sure to leave room to put in the appropriate fixtures, pipes, and other necessary components of a kitchen. On the other hand, if you decide you want an outdoor kitchen six months after your pool is finished, you may find yourself waiting that much longer while your pool is renovated to accommodate the addition. Save yourself the trouble and draw up a detailed plan with the pool company ahead of time.
3) Hiring a Too Specialized Company
When building a swimming pool, you should always look for the most reputable builder you can find. However, steer clear of companies that only work on pools. Even though they can build you an excellent swimming pool, their specialized focus means they’re less likely to take the rest of your backyard into account. The completed pool might bump up against features you’ve already installed or simply get in the way of additional accessories. Find a reputable builder that specializes in general backyard and landscaping design, not just pool construction.
Keeping Your Pool Project Manageable
The sooner your swimming pool and upgraded backyard are complete, the sooner you can start hosting parties and enjoying summer nights in the pool. As you customize the backyard to your tastes, don’t forget to look to the future and make sure you know exactly what you want and when you want it. The more pool design mistakes you can prevent, the better.
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