Swimming Pool Safety 101

Photo credits: protectachild.com

The pool is open! Make safety your #1 priority this year. May is National Water Safety Month and the perfect time to make sure your pool and patio is up to par. Follow these recommendations to keep your family and friends safe and give yourself peace of mind so you can sit back, relax and just enjoy your pool this summer.

Fencing

Many states require your pool to be fenced on all sides. Even if you happen to live somewhere where fencing is not a requirement, installing a fence is very important, especially when there are children around. Your fence should be at least 5 feet tall and have a self-latching or self-closing gate. This simple solution will greatly reduce the risk of children getting into the pool area unsupervised.

Alarms

Gate alarms, perimeter alarms and pressure sensitive alarms will notify you when someone or something enters the pool area or pool itself. Wearable alarms are a good option for children, alerting a parent when the wearable component gets wet. Learn more about alarms from our friends at Swim University.

Chemical Storage

This one goes without saying, but pool chemicals, just like household chemicals, can make children and pets gravely ill if they are ingested, inhaled or get in their eyes. Never store your pool chemicals anywhere that would be accessible to a child or pet. For chemical storage tips, check out this article. Reducing your pool chemical use is also a favorable option to reduce any risk.

Lifesavers

Every pool should have safety equipment readily accessible. A life ring (hard plastic ring) with a rope can easily be tossed into the pool for someone in danger to grab hold of, allowing the rescuer to pull them to safety. Life jackets should also be available in case of emergency or for new swimmers to wear while learning to swim. A shepherd’s hook is another useful safety tool. The loop attaches to the end of your telescoping pool skimmer pole and can be used in the case of an emergency to grab someone and pull them to safety.

Reduce Temptation

Keep all pool floats and toys away from the pool area when not in use, as children often find their bright colors and fun shapes enticing. Also, keep any climbable objects away from your pool gate and fence.

Teach Water Safety

Children are never too young to start learning the basics of pool and water safety. Start them in swimming lessons at an early age so they gain confidence in the water and understand and respect the importance of following the rules in and around the pool.

Adult Supervision

The number one thing you can do to ensure safe pool fun is to make sure there is always an adult swimmer watching when there are any children, pets or novice swimmers around your pool. A clever way to make sure there is always an adult around is to have a safety wristband worn by the adult in charge.  When that adult leaves the pool area they are then responsible for passing the wristband on to another adult supervisor.

Safety Covers

Safety covers are a great investment for both in-ground and above ground pools in the off-season, preventing anyone or anything from falling in the often frigid and unsupervised water. Check out the following brands when purchasing your safety cover.

Use the tips above to keep children, pets and novice swimmers safe. Stop by our Retail Store and take home a safety brochure and coloring books for the kids!

Tracy’s Tips: Protect your pets and animals from swimming pool dangers

Pet and Animal Safety Around the Pool

Safety is the most important element to pool ownership, but it is not just people that are at risk of drowning accidents in the pool. Our family pets, stray animals and wildlife can all run the risk of falling into your swimming pool and not being able to find their way out. Here are a few suggestions to keep your pets and neighborhood animals safe around your pool.

1. Install a Fence, Alarm and/or Pool Cover

Fencing and alarming your pool will help prevent unwanted animals from accidentally falling into the water and discourage them from using your pool as a watering hole. Be aware that many pool alarms only go off if an animal over 15 lbs. falls in. For this reason, alarms should be used as a backup safety mechanism, not your primary solution. Your first line of defense should be a quality fence that is at least 4 feet high. A sturdy safety pool cover will also keep animals from entering your pool and greatly reduce the risk of drowning accidents.

2. Trim Your Trees

If you have trees in your pool area, be sure to cut branches back so they are not hanging above the pool. Tree dwelling animals (especially baby animals) can easily end up in your pool when jumping from branch to branch. Reduce the risk by removing the branches.

3. Remove Trash Temptations

Make sure any trash you store outside is secure in barrels that are not easily opened. Trash cans with locking lids are preferable. Storing trash in a garage or shed also discourages critters foraging in your garbage. Having a potential food source in your yard will draw animals into your yard and pool area. Eliminate the temptation.

4. NEVER Leave Dogs Unattended

While some dogs are natural swimmers, others cannot swim at all. If they seem to like the water, it is wise to teach them to swim. If they do not seem to like the water, do not force them into it. Either way, it is important that your pets are aware of a safe way to exit the pool. Even if your dog is a good swimmer, he can become disoriented and panic if he can’t find a quick exit. Guide your dog in and out of the pool to show him where the stairs or ramp are located. Just as you wouldn’t leave your children unsupervised around the pool, the same rules apply for your pets. Fencing (as stated above) is the most reliable way to keep pets out of the pool area, while still allowing them to hang out in the yard.

5. Provide an Easy Exit

Having an easy exit strategy isn’t just for family pets. Installing a pool ramp (we like the Skamper-Ramp) will give wildlife and neighborhood animals that are not familiar with your pool a highly visible escape route. For critters like frogs and squirrels, we suggest the FrogLog, which attaches to the side of your pool and floats on the surface acting as a life raft for smaller animals. Try the Critter Skimmer as another safety mechanism. “The Critter Skimmer is an eco-friendly invention that allows frogs, turtles, mice, and other small critters to rescue themselves from in-ground pool skimmers. Replacing the pool skimmer cover with a Critter Skimmer allows animals that invariably end up in the pool to climb up the attached spiral rescue ramp and through the opening in the skimmer cover to safety.”

Share these pool tips with fellow pool owners and check back often for more of Tracy’s Tips on our blog.

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

Your Safety is Our Priority

We understand that these are trying times for everyone in our community. Our main priority is the health and well-being of our employees and customers when it comes to pool care at your home and service at our retail store. To ensure everyone remains as safe as possible, we have instituted new processes for both shopping for pool supplies and Hassle Free Pool Care.

As we navigate a “new normal” the team at South Shore Pool Supply is implementing procedures to provide safe Hassle Free Pool Care. This pool season is different from those in the past. With many people isolated, we want to be sure you get to spend as much time enjoying your pool as possible. Please be patient while we respond to the many requests to open early!

Photo Credits: Patrick Ahearn Architecture
What We’re Doing in Our Retail Store
If you need supplies or your pool water tested, we are happy to help you with a contact-free curbside pickup. Drop off a water sample and wait in your car while we test it. After we have the results, we can drop off the needed chemicals to your car and charge the card on file for your supplies.

What You Can Do at Your Home

If your pool cover is sitting in the water take action now!

Follow these steps to keep your pool clean until it’s time to open.

Prevent the Green Monster by keeping your safety cover out of the water.
Step 1: Tighten the cover. See instructions here.
Step 2: If the cover is still sitting in the water drop the level so that there is about two inches in the skimmer.  You don’t want to lower it too far and have to add water at the opening.
Step 3: Add liquid shock and circulate with a sump pump. We have liquid shock available for a contact-free curbside pickup.
If you want to open your pool during the mandatory stay at home order, Watch these videos for guidance.

Photo credits: Patrick Ahearn Architecture
Providing Pool Care at Your Home
We have decided to remain closed until May 4, 2020.
Experts are predicting that we have not yet reached the peak of the outbreak. For this reason, we do not want to risk anyone’s health by sending technicians into the field.
Services scheduled prior to May 4, 2020 will be rescheduled and customers will be notified of their new date.
Because the situation is ever changing, watch your email for updates about scheduled services.
When restrictions have been lifted and work at your homes commences for the season, we will be taking extra precautions to maintain everyone’s safety.
We ask all customers with any scheduled work or service calls to please:
  • Notify us at 781-383-3300 x 201 of any sickness or potential COVID-19 contact.
  • Leave your gates and doors to pool equipment and supplies unlocked, in order to practice social distancing and prevent interactions between you and our technicians.
  • Please refrain from close interaction with technicians. Talk at a distance and wear a mask for everyone’s protection.

Our friends at Hayward Pools said it best. “Remember, pool maintenance matters. When pools are not properly taken care of, they can become breeding grounds for algae, insects and mosquito-borne disease. Professional pool care goes beyond the cosmetic—it’s a matter of community health.”


Still need help? We’re available for remote support via Skype or Zoom. Talk to the experts who know your pool.

 

We are contacting customers the week prior to their opening to confirm services. We are available by phone (781-383-3300 x 201) and email (tracy@southshorepoolsupply.com) to respond to your questions.

 

Stay healthy!

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

South Shore Pool Supply

Pool Opening Guide

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is nearly here. The temperature is rising and it’s almost time to dust off that patio furniture and get your pool in tip top shape for summer! With school closed for the year and events canceled, many of us will be spending even more time in our pools. Keep your family active and entertained by opening your pool earlier this season. You’ll be glad you did if summer weather comes early.

Here are a few things to have on hand to get started:

Chemicals: shock, chlorine, pH, alkalinity & stabilizer
Test Strips/Kit
Telescoping Pole
Skimmer Head
Vacuum: Head & Hose
Pool Brush
A Leaf Rake

Creating a checklist is an easy way to make sure you have everything you need for a hassle-free pool opening. It just so happens we made one for you!

☐ Phone a friend. Pool opening won’t be such a chore if you enlist the help of a family member and roommate. Fire up the grill, fix a beverage, and throw on some music to get motivated!

☐ Clear and remove cover. Use a long handled broom or leaf blower to clean off your cover. It will be easier to store the cover later and also helps you avoid getting debris in your pool. Taking the cover off early in the season will reduce the chance for an algae nightmare, aka the “green monster”.

Photo credits: HGTV

☐ Get your filter system and pumps up and running. Pumps and filter system should be run 24/7 until your pool is clear to start, then for 12 hours every day after that. “Test fire and run ALL pool equipment, heaters, booster pumps, blowers, water-feature/auxiliary pumps, remote controls etc., and allow these functions to run for a good 20-30 minutes to make sure you are getting good consistent performance and checking for leaks or service issues.” – Swim University

☐ Test your pool water. Get a sample of your pool water and use your test kit and/or strips to get an accurate reading of your water’s pH and chlorine levels. For a more comprehensive reading, bring a sample of your pool water into our Retail Store for a complimentary water test, contact-free. We’ll test for: total and free chlorine, pH and alkalinity, cyanuric acid, calcium hardness, phosphates, borates, iron and copper.

☐ Time to shock. Shock is the key to a clean and clear pool in your future. Kill bacteria and remove old chlorine by shocking your pool water. You should only shock the pool after all of the leaves and debris have been removed. If you can’t see the bottom, scoop blindly until there’s nothing left.

Pack it up. Make sure your cover is clean and dry before storing it in an elevated container with a lid. For more info, check out Tracy’s Tips for storing your cover.

☐ Review your pool safety mechanisms. Start the pool season right by making sure you’re following our general safety guidelines, and that your pool area is safe and secure from unwanted or unsupervised guests.

If doing it yourself is not your style, no problem! That’s what we are here for. Contact us to learn more about our Hassle Free Pool Care program and leave the work to us. Appointments are filling up fast, schedule your spring opening today!

Quick-Clean Your Pool After Opening

We’d love to tell you there is a magic solution that will have your pool swim-ready in a day or two, but what you will truly need is some elbow grease and a bit of patience. Realistically, expect to have a clean and clear pool in about a week’s time.

Once you’ve set a date to have your pool ready for swimming, plan your opening accordingly. Purchase your chemicals, test strips and any tools that may need to be replaced. You’ll need a working skimmer net and/or a deep pocketed leaf rake, a pole and vacuum, so make sure your equipment is still in good condition from last year.

Now that you have everything you need, you’re ready to get started. Follow the steps below to have your pool crystal clear and ready for swimmers in one week’s time.

  1. Clean, remove and store your pool cover in a dry, elevated space.
  2. Add water to your pool from the hose to top off the water level. The water should at least half way up the skimmer.
  3. Begin cleaning by scooping leaves and debris from the
    bottom, and brushing and vacuuming the sides of the pool to remove the grime and dirt that built up over the winter.
  4. Make sure your pump and filter are running properly and clean your filter for the start of the season. Backwash or clean your filter to restore flow. This needs to be done more often during your spring clean up.
  5. Test your pool water, after it has been running for 24 hours, with a test kit and adjust your chemicals accordingly. Bring a sample to our store after your water has circulated for at least 24 hours.
  6. Add chlorine or shock to your pool to finish the cleaning process. Your chlorine level should ideally fall in the range of 1 ppm to 3 ppm.
  7. Continue to test your pool water, vacuuming, skimming and cleaning /backwashing your filter your pool until it is
    balanced, clear and ready for swimmers.

For more opening tips, follow our Pool Opening Guide and your pool will be ready in no time!

Tracy’s Tips: How Often Should a Pool Filter Run?

The long and short of it is this, you theoretically could run your pool/filter pump 24/7, the entire time your pool is open. However, doing so would not only be costly and use a great deal of energy, it would also be completely unnecessary.

We recommend that you run your pool filter for at least 12 hours per day, allowing all of your pool water to be run through the filter at least once each day. That being said, the more you run the filter, the cleaner your pool will be.

You can cut down on energy costs by running your pool filter at night or very early in the morning when energy rates are usually lower. Keep in mind, you need to run your filter when adding chemicals and while cleaning, which may be more difficult to do in the dark. If you’re swimming during the day and find the pool surface filling with debris, turn on the system so the skimmers can do their job.

Are you finding this information helpful? Share it with friends! Check back often for more of Tracy’s Tips on our blog.

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

When to Replace Your Pool Liner

Vinyl pool liners typically last about 12 years if maintained properly. As your pool liner ages, activity, chemicals, weather and UV rays will eventually cause your liner to start deteriorating. When that happens, it’s time to consider whether repairing or replacing is the right choice for you.

Replacing your pool liner may be in order if…
  • there are substantial cracks and tears in your pool liner.
  • your pool is clearly losing water from a leak.
  • the color is drastically faded from chemicals and the sun.
  • you notice rust stains or algae buildups that cannot be
    removed.
  • you see wrinkles, stretching or slippage of the liner itself,
    especially around the skimmer, return jets and pump fittings.
  • your pool liner is over 12 years old and you want to be proactive before problems arise.
  • you are tired of you liner pattern and want an aesthetic
    upgrade.

There are short term solutions for tears and leaks if you are hoping to keep your current liner a bit longer. Keep in mind these are merely patches and you’ll want to address the underlying issue with a more permanent solution as soon as you can.

You don’t always have the luxury to plan a pool liner replacement, but if you keep an eye out for deterioration, you can make repairs or schedule a replacement off-season. Check your liner early this spring to make sure it’s in good shape before beginning your pool opening.

Need an expert opinion? If you need leak detection or liner replacement, contact us and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!

Free & Total Chlorine: What You Need to Know

It is vital to keep measurements of your pool’s chlorine levels. Chlorine is essential to sanitizing your pool keeping you and your family safe.

Chlorine can often be a source of confusion as there are three distinct kinds: free chlorine, combined chlorine and
total chlorine. For the purpose of this article, we will be
focusing on free and total chlorine, but will cover the basic
definitions of three versions.

Our friends at Swim University classify the three types of
chlorine in the following ways:

3 Types of Chlorine

  • Free Chlorine – This is the chlorine that you usually test for in your pool water. Free chlorine is able to sanitize your pool. Your pool water should have between 1 and 3 parts per
    million (ppm).
  • Combined Chlorine – Chlorine that’s been used up by the sanitation process is called combined chlorine. While it’s still in the water, its ability to sanitize is reduced compared to free chlorine.
  • Total Chlorine – Total chlorine is the sum of both free chlorine and combined chlorine.

What’s the Difference? Let’s Do the Math.

As Chemical Engineers, the science behind chlorine is our specialty! Let’s begin with this simple formula for chlorine:

FC + CC = TC

“When chlorine is added to your pool, it reacts with the
water to form hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion. These compounds together form what we call free chlorine.

Once this chlorine begins to react with the contaminants in the water, such as nitrogen and ammonia, it becomes combined chlorine.

In this state, the chlorine isn’t as effective at sanitizing
compared to free chlorine. Your goal is to make sure your pool is sanitized. You want to make sure your free chlorine levels stay in check.

For example, if your free chlorine levels and total chlorine levels are the same, then there’s no combined (or used chlorine) in your water. If your total chlorine level is higher than the free chlorine level, the difference of the two are the combined
chlorine levels.” – Swim University

Your combined chlorine should be zero, meaning your free chlorine and total chlorine (what gets tested) are equal.

To maintain the highest quality water in your pool, it is
important that you understand the math. By determining how much chlorine is optimal to add to your pool water, you will
ultimately reach the perfect balance and in doing so, kill the harmful contaminants in the water making your pool safer for swimming.

For example, if you test your pool water and the combined chlorine levels appear to be rising, this is a good indicator that it is time to add more chlorine to your pool to assist in sanitation. Conversely, if the combined chlorine levels appear to be low after testing, you may not need to add anything to your water at that time.

Safety Matters

We hope this gives you a better understanding of chlorine’s role in keeping your pool water safe and clean all season long, and that you have an easier time adjusting your pool’s chlorine levels for optimal sanitation. A clean and healthy pool maximizes your swimming and relaxation time and who doesn’t want that?!

Choose Hassle Free Pool Care and let our expert technicians maintain your healthy pool or stop by our Retail Store for a Free Water Test or to purchase a Chlorine Test Kit if you prefer to do it yourself.

Check out the two articles below from Aqua Magazine to learn more about the importance of chlorine in your pool water.

Chloramines in Source Water 

Is Superchlorinating The Best Way To Eliminate Chloramines?

 

Tracy’s Tips: Pool Cover Storage

When the time comes to open your pool and put the cover away for the season, here are a few tips to help maintain the
integrity of your cover while in storage.

  1. Make sure your pool cover is completely dry before storing. Most safety covers are mesh, and can be folded and put in the mesh storage bag while still wet. Once it is fully dry, it can be stored. If you are storing your cover in a plastic bin however, make sure the cover is dry before packing it away, to avoid mold.
  2. Store your cover in an elevated location if possible. Safety covers are very heavy, so be sure your rack or shelf can handle the weight. Storing your cover on the ground will invite rodents and bugs to use it as a home and chew holes through your cover. No one wants that costly surprise at the end of pool season!
  3. Plastic storage bins are perfect for pool cover storage. Make sure to choose a large enough bin with a tight-fitting lid. If you are going to put your cover in a bag, make sure to hang the bag high off the floor.
  4. Add moth balls to the bin with your pool cover. PRO TIP: Put the mothballs in a large sock to keep them from getting all over your pool deck when you take out the cover later.

Check back often for more of Tracy’s Tips on our blog!

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

Lower the Cost of Running Your Hot Tub: 8 Tips

The best way to lower the cost of running your hot tub is to first understand what is costing you the most money. The most expensive part of running a hot tub is powering up the heating element. Almost all hot tubs are heated using an electrical resistance coil. As electrical energy is run through the heating element, the resistance causes heat, which is absorbed by the water running through the heater. Secondary electrical costs come from running the pump(s).

The best thing you can do for your wallet is to be sure your hot tub is running as efficiently as possible. Read on for our tips to lower the cost of running your hot tub, in order of impact and ease of implementation.

  1. Cover condition and the quality of the cover makes the
    biggest impact on energy savings and heat retention. A water logged or otherwise damaged cover has a significantly
    reduced thermal rating and can be difficult to move. The cost of a new higher quality cover quickly pays for itself in
    electrical savings, as the heating element is used much less.
  2. Turning down the temperature of your hot tub between uses makes a huge impact. Lowering the temperature from 104 to 100 (or even less) saves a lot in electrical costs because the heating element is powered up less frequently. The lower you set the temperature, the more you’ll save, but it will take longer to heat back up before use.
  3. Closing air jets while the hot tub is not in use will help to
    reduce heat loss. Most hot tubs have valves that allow air to be sucked into the return jets when opened, causing
    bubbling action in the water. This is nice when you’re using the hot tub, but the turbulence at the surface allows heat to rise and escape much quicker. Especially in the winter, the air being introduced is much cooler than the water temperature, causing a rapid temperature drop.
  4. Maintaining a clean filter cartridge will reduce the cost of running the circulation pump. A dirty filter will restrict water flow and force the pump to work harder, drawing more
    energy and thus costing more money to operate. Regularly cleaning the filter cartridge ensures that not only will the
    water quality remain high, but the efficiency of the pump can be maximized.
  5. A thermal or solar blanket can be cut to size and floated on top of the water surface. The “heavy-duty bubble wrap” can serve as a lighter, secondary cover to further reduce heat evaporation up and out of the hot tub.
  6. If a hot tub is consistently buffeted by wind, the air flow around the tub will whisk away heat and maintain lower
    temperatures around the unit, speeding up heat loss. Having a simple wind break can make a big difference and will also increase privacy and comfort for bathers when in use.
  7. LED lights are all the rage now as their energy consumption is much lower than standard incandescent lights. Hot tubs can upgrade to this technology to save a little, but making sure that the lights are turned off when done using the hot tub is the best way to save on lighting costs.
  8. As technology in many industries advances, some of that
    invariably finds its way into the pool and spa industry. Pumps, motors, lights and heaters are more efficient, more thought is put into the hydraulic design of the plumbing systems,
    insulation has improved, control systems have more options, the list goes on. Older hot tubs were usually just a pump, heater, and a filter. That same system in a newer hot tub will be, by default, much more efficient. Newer hot tubs usually use a very small circulation pump or a two speed pump to significantly lower the cost of heating and filtering. They’ll also allow for a higher speed/stronger jet pumps to add the jet action that bathers desire when the hot tub is in use. Newer tubs generally have more design and equipment
    options as well, allowing for more capabilities at a lower
    operational cost. Eventually, it might be worth investing in an upgrade to a more efficient system.

Contact us directly if we can help you with your hot tub or swimming pool maintenance or answer any questions. Visit the South Shore Pool Supply retail store for all of your hot tub and pool products.

Hassle Free Pool Care

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