Tag Archives: Pool Safety

Salt Water Pools: What to Love

Photo credits: Grolie Home

Salt water pools are growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional chlorine pools. The benefits of owning a salt water pool are impressive and may have you considering the switch.

Safety

Contrary to popular belief, salt water pools are not chlorine or chemical-free, but they are safer because pool owners do not have to handle the chlorine in its physical form nor find a good place to store it. You might be surprised to hear that salt water swimming pools use chlorine to keep the water clear.  A salt water pool generates chlorine through a process called electrolysis. Salt is added to the pool, the water passes through the chlorine generator, then converts the salt into chlorine using an electric discharge. Salt water pools use a salt water chlorine generator (SWCG) to turn salt into chlorine. The chlorine eventually breaks down, leaving behind the salt to be reused.

Maintenance & Cost Savings

A SWCG makes it easier to maintain constant, proper chlorine levels. This allows you to avoid high chlorine levels that commonly occur in traditionally chlorinated pools, causing eyes to dry out and become irritated. Salt water pools ultimately save you time and money on costly chemicals, after the initial purchase and installation of a SWCG. Salt pools are also cleaner because the generator runs on a consistent schedule.

Skin Care & Health

A salt water pool leaves skin feeling softer and smoother upon exiting the pool, unlike non-SWCG pool water. The water is soft and won’t leave a noticeable residue in your hair or on your skin. Salt water is also known to exfoliate, rejuvenate and detoxify skin.

As far as health benefits, swimming is great exercise and a proven stress reliever. Salt water pools are even more beneficial because they make swimmers more buoyant and help to relieve inflammation in your joints and muscles. With a salt water pool, there is the added bonus of not exposing yourself or the environment to as many harmful chemicals.

Whether you’re considering an update or planning to build a pool, salt water pools are an excellent choice.

Tracy’s Tips: No Swimming After Eating: Fact or Fiction?

Just about anyone who enjoys swimming has heard that it can be dangerous to swim after you eat. You may even recall your parents telling you to wait 30 minutes or more to get back into the pool to avoid getting a cramp.

The thought behind the waiting period is that your body uses a larger blood supply to aid in digestion, therefore, there may not be enough blood flow to your arm and leg muscles to allow them to function properly. The concern is that this lack of blood flow could cause drowning accidents. While the first half of that thought process is true, the latter half is not. The American Red Cross even issued a scientific advisory review in the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education about it. The review concluded, “Currently available information suggests that eating before swimming is not a contributing risk for drowning and can be dismissed as a myth.”

Swimming after eating is no more dangerous than going for a walk after dinner. Just as you may not want to run a marathon after a heavy meal, you may not want to do any vigorous swimming to avoid losing your lunch. Exercise after a small to medium size meal is not harmful and likely will not cause any cramping.

We hope you are enjoying and sharing these pool tips with fellow pool owners. Please check back often for more of
Tracy’s Tips on our blog.

Tracy Dieselman – Owner

Choosing the Best Safety Cover for Your Pool

When you purchase a home with a swimming pool or decide to add one to enhance your backyard and entertainment space, your first priority should be safety. Pools are SO much fun, but can also be dangerous for non-swimmers including adults, children and animals. Consider a safety cover to ease your worries in the off-season and greatly reduce the risk of an accident.

When it comes to pool covers, there are two options: solid or mesh. Let’s review both options in more detail to help you decide which makes the most sense for you and your family.

Solid Safety Covers

Pros

  • Solid pool covers do not let sunlight, water or debris through. This prevents algae from growing in your pool. Without algae and dirty water getting into your pool, spring opening will require less maintenance and be less of a headache.
  • These are usually made from a vinyl, tarpaulin-like material, making them easy to cut to the custom shape of your
    specific swimming pool.
  • This type of cover is attached to your pool deck via anchors and springs, allowing it to support the weight of water, snow or debris that may collect on the cover.
  • When you are not using this cover, it can easily be folded up and stored.

Cons

  • Since solid pool covers do not drain, you will need a pump or drain to remove water and debris from the cover if too much accumulates. You will want to prevent a large puddle from accumulating on your solid cover as to not create another drowning hazard.
  • Though the cover can be folded when not in use, it is heavier than a mesh cover which can make it a little more difficult to maneuver.

Mesh Covers

Pros

  • Mesh pool covers are very strong and if installed and
    maintained properly, can hold a lot of weight. This keeps people and animals out and away from danger.
  • Mesh covers are generally reasonably priced, making them the most affordable to pool owners.
  • Mesh covers can last around 15 years if properly maintained, so they are not only an investment in safety, but the best
    option for your wallet.
  • Mesh covers can be custom made to fit your specific pool shape.
  • These covers can be folded and easily stored in the off-season, much like the solid safety covers. However, they tend to be lighter weight, making them easier to deal with.
  • Rain will filter through the mesh, so you will not have to pump excess water off of the top of it.
  • This type of cover is attached to your pool deck via anchors and springs as well, allowing it to support the weight of snow or debris that may collect on the cover. It will keep out large debris such as fallen tree limbs.

Cons

  • While the sunlight penetrating this cover can be an
    advantage if you’re still using the pool and want it warmed, it can be a disadvantage when it comes to algae growth.
    Sunlight will get through the tight mesh weave allowing for algae growth on your pool’s walls. This will leave you with more work to clean your water when you uncover in the spring.
  • Dirty water mixed with smaller debris will be able to seep into your pool requiring more effort to clean it when pool season rolls back around.
  • Since rain water and melted snow will make its way into your pool, you may need to drain some water should the water level get too high.

When deciding which cover is right for your pool, be sure to weigh the pros and cons for your specific pool and budget to determine which option is best. Regardless of which type of cover you choose, installing a safety cover is a smart decision for all pool owners.

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

Clean Swimming: Does it Really Matter?

Do you shower before swimming? While it may seem strange to shower before jumping into a swimming pool, it is a highly recommended practice for a number of reasons.

  1. Avoid Harmful Contaminants

    • Chances are that your body has contaminants on it that are not beneficial for the pool. These include sweat, soap, sunscreen, perfume, shampoo, deodorant, urine and even feces. Gross! All of these products will contaminate your pool water when swimmers get in the water without showering first.
    • When swimmers shower before entering the pool, they reduce the risk of recreational waterborne illnesses that cause diarrhea, skin and eye infections.
    • Pool disinfectants like chlorine protect and prevent waterborne germs, but chlorine does not immediately kill all the harmful germs and may not work in all situations,
      depending on the contaminants it is trying to kill.
  2. Be Courteous To Pool Owners

    • Be considerate of others, especially the pool owner, if the pool is not your own. Showering before going for a swim will remove anything on your body that could dirty their pool and is just courteous.
    • The more contaminated the water becomes because of the foreign substances coming off of swimmers, the harder the pool has to work to stay clean. The pool’s pumps and filters will have to work even harder to remove contaminants in the water and additional chlorine will have to be added to make sure the water is clean and safe for swimming. Save time and money for the pool owners by showering, making it less work to keep the pool clean.
  3.  Clean Pools Are Safer Pools

    • Water that is filled with bacteria can cause you and your guests to become sick.
    • “Most people associate the smell of chlorine as a sign that a pool is clean. However, they couldn’t be more wrong. The smell generated by chlorine is only present while it is oxidizing contaminates. Therefore, a pool that is
      completely clean will have very little, if any, odor at all. The stronger the smell the more work the chlorine is
      having to do meaning the pool is actually dirtier.”
      Swim University

Keep the pool safe and clean for all swimmers, shower before making a splash!

Pool Care Don’ts

While we generally guide pool owners toward solutions to their pool care woes, sometimes it’s best to learn from others’ mistakes to avoid making them yourself. Here are some things we DO NOT recommend.

Shocking

  • Don’t shock your pool during the day. Sunlight will burn off your unstable chlorine (aka shock), so it is vital to shock your pool during the night to ensure it has time to do the job properly.
  • Don’t add shock through your skimmer.  This mistake can be VERY dangerous because pool shock (calcium hypochlorite) and chlorine (DiChlor or TriChlor) will mix to create a deadly gas and can cause an explosion when mixed through your automatic chlorinator. This can not only cause bodily harm, but can also damage your pool liner, floor and walls.
  • Don’t add shock directly to your pool water. Dilute the shock in a bucket of warm warmer before adding it to your pool. Add shock to the water, not vice versa. The diluted solution will be safer to work with and will mix better with your pool water. It will also avoid shock settling on your pool floor and causing your lining to become frail, eventually leading to leaks.
  • Don’t swim right after shocking. Shock can burn your skin and eyes, so keep swimmers out for about day post
    shocking.

Brushing

  • Don’t forget your pool brush. Your pool vacuum is not a
    substitute for your pool brush. Be sure to brush the bottom and sides of your pool at least once a week, especially the hard to reach areas. Brushing is vital to removing bacteria, germs and algae, while the vacuum is great for the larger
    debris.

Vacuuming

  • Don’t use a robot on algae. If you have an algae problem on your hands, do not use an automatic cleaner to try to
    remove it. Manual cleaners are the way to go in this scenario because pressure-side automatic cleaners will push the algae up through the mesh bag, clog it and blow it around your pool.

Balancing

  • Don’t neglect pH and alkalinity. Maintaining the proper pH and alkalinity levels is necessary even if your pool water looks clear. Low pH (highly acidic water) can cause damage to your pool equipment including: pumps, filters, solar
    covers, liners and heaters. Adjust your alkalinity levels to
    ensure your pH is always balanced.

Filtering

  • Don’t forget to run your filter. Be sure your pool filter is
    running for at LEAST 8 hours each day.
    The more you run your pool filter, the cleaner your pool water, plain and
    simple. Make sure that all of your pool water runs through the filter at least once each day.
  • Don’t over backwash your filter system. The larger debris in your filter actually help to trap the smaller debris, and
    therefore should only be removed when the pressure rises above 10 psi. After backwashing, your pressure gauge should read between 10-15 psi.

Testing

  • Don’t skip your water testing. If you can’t do a full,
    comprehensive water test each week, be sure to at least test your free chlorine and pH levels. Bring a sample of your pool water into our Retail Store for a free, detailed analysis. We recommend a computer generated water test at least once a month.

Avoid these common pool care blunders and you will be well on your way to a safe and clean swimming pool.

10 Pool Chemical Storage Safety Tips

Proper pool chemical storage is imperative to avoid harmful
reactions, mixing and spills. While fireworks may be part of our summer fun, properly storing your pool chemicals will help you avoid a dangerous 4th of July-like explosion due to improper chemical storage.

Don’t let this happen to you…

How to Properly Store Pool Chemicals

    1. Read Labels Carefully: If you do one thing to ensure pool chemical safety, this is it. All of the important hazards,
      storage instructions and safety information will be on each container of chemicals. Avoid scary chemical reactions by reading the fine print thoroughly on all of your pool
      chemicals.
    2. Storage Temperature:  Pool chemicals should never be stored in a location that exceeds 95° F. Find a cool and dry location to store your chemicals. If possible, avoid areas with high humidity and direct sunlight.
    3. Ventilation: Store your pool chemicals in a well-ventilated area. Many people choose to store their pool chemicals in the pump room, but if that is where you will be keeping your supplies, you will need an HVAC shutoff in case of an emergency situation.
    4. Fire Safety: Be smart about what you store with your pool chemicals. Do not store other flammable items such as gasoline or propane near your pool chemicals or machines like lawn mowers that may contain these flammables. Also, keep your storage area clear of flammable trash or debris.
    5. Keep Chemicals Dry: Store your pool chemicals on a raised, flat surface to guarantee they do not get wet. If your chemicals do get wet, they can leach noxious gases and cause corrosion. Keep your chemicals away from doors and windows in waterproof containers and be sure the lids are always tightly secured.
    6. Keep Like with Like: Some chemicals need to be stored apart from one another to avoid reactions. Avoid storing chemicals on top of each other and make sure chlorine and acids are not stored near each other. When in doubt, store all chemicals individually for optimal safety.
    7. Cleaning Your Storage Area: Be smart when using household chemicals and cleaners to tidy up your chemical storage area. The last thing you want is an unexpected chemical reaction caused by accidental mixing. Use cleaning products that are safe to use around pool chemicals.
    8. Lock Them Up: Make sure all your pool chemicals are stored in a locked location that cannot be accessed by children or pets.
    9. Protect Yourself: Wear gloves and protective eye-wear when working with pool chemicals and make sure they don’t come into contact with your hands, mouth or eyes. Wear long sleeves and shoes when working with pool chemicals to avoid any chance of skin irritation or burns. Add the pool chemicals to your water instead of adding water to your chemicals, which could splash onto your skin.
    10. Be Mindful of the Environment: Avoid chemical spills at all costs to prevent chemical burns and inhaling dangerous fumes and dust. Spilling chemicals on the pool deck or ground can contaminate groundwater and soil causing a host of other problems.

Follow the steps above to significantly reduce your risk of chemical illness or injury.

If you prefer to leave the pool chemicals to the professionals, learn more about our Hassle Free Pool Care program and let our trained and experienced technicians handle it. That’ll leave you free to spend your time enjoying all that your swimming pool has to offer in fun and relaxation.

Pool Party Prep Checklist

Photo credits: marthastewart.com

Thinking about hosting a pool party? Make your party memorable with these helpful tips to get your pool and patio ready. Have something to add? Leave your suggestion in the comments!

1. Budget Accordingly

Planning your budget in advance will keep you on track with your party planning and avoid stress as your party date approaches. If you know your budget, you can decide how many guests you can reasonably accommodate. Don’t forget to factor in food, drinks, decorations, and other party items to go with your theme.

2. Prepare Your Pool

Clean Your Pool

A few days before the party, thoroughly vacuum your pool. It may seem obvious, but you will need to skim the pool to remove floating debris. Keep up with it as best you can prior to your event. Your guests will appreciate a clean, sparkling pool to swim, play and relax in. It is a pool party after all, so be sure your pool is the focal point.

Test Your Water Quality

Knowing how many people are attending is not only important for food planning purposes, it also plays a role in your water quality. Increasing the number of swimmers means making adjustments to keep your water balanced, clean, and ready to host more people than usual. We recommend adding shock to your pool 2-3 days before your party to get your water as clear and clean as possible. After shocking, make sure to re-balance your pool water with the proper chemicals and clean your pool filter. Repeat these steps after the party to again re-balance and clean your pool water.

Make Sure the Pool Area is Safe

Clean up around the pool if you have a lot of toys, floats and other pool accessories everywhere. You do not want your guests to even have the potential to get hurt on your watch. If your party goes into the night or you’re throwing an evening event, make sure the pool is lit and easy to see. No one wants to fall into the pool unexpectedly and this can be extremely dangerous if there are children or non-swimmers in attendance. Pool lighting can be fun and add to the ambiance and theme of your party. Turn on your pool light or add floating pool lights and/or outdoor lighting around the perimeter of your pool for safety.

Don’t Forget to Add the Fun!

Now that we have safety covered, you can focus on the best part of party planning, the FUN! Will you need some floats for a relaxing vibe? Would your guests enjoy playing some competitive pool games? Do you need some kid friendly pool toys and floats? The options are endless!

Stop by our Retail Store for everything you need to add some fun to your party! While you are there, get a complimentary water test and all of the chemicals and products you need to keep your pool safe.

3. Prepare Your Patio

Clean Your Patio

Again, this may seem obvious, but cleaning your patio is a very important first step. Even though the centerpiece of the party is the pool, your guests will spend a lot of time out of the pool as well. Eating, drinking, playing games, dancing and mingling with other guests will take place on or around your patio. Sweep or blow leaves, dirt and debris away from your patio area to tidy up. You will also want to clean any patio furniture you will have out for your guests. Bring out additional furniture and chairs to accommodate the number of guests you’re expecting.

If you have landscaping around your patio, take some time to trim back bushes, pull weeds, and remove debris around your flower beds.

Prepare Entertainment, Food & Drink

What’s a party without some music?! Whether you have built in outdoor speakers or you are using a portable bluetooth player, find a way to bring music outdoors to set the mood and theme of your pool party. Pool and yard games offer a fun way to encourage your guests to loosen up and enjoy each other’s company. Pool basketball, volleyball, and bag toss are all crowd-pleasers that your guests will love playing.

If you’re serving food and drinks, make sure you have enough to feed all of your guests. Make your menu even more fun by keeping it on-theme. Make sure you have the proper utensils and paper goods you will need. Think about where you are going to set up a food table and how you are going to keep the food fresh and drinks cold on a hot summer day.

Set the Scene

Sticking with your theme, pick out some fun decorations to liven up your entertainment space. Be creative and set the scene, but you don’t need to go overboard. Display your decorations around the patio and pool area to bring everything together. Lighting is important around your patio, just as it is around your pool. Lighting is not only practical so your guests can see where they are going at night,  it also can create ambiance and double as decorations. Insect repelling candles are also helpful on a summer’s night.

Go the Extra Step

While most of your guests will come prepared for a pool party, be sure to have some extra pool towels around for someone who may have forgotten to bring one. It is thoughtful and wise to have sunscreen, bug spray and shady places for guests to sit readily available.

Now that you are prepared for your party, all that’s left for you to do is be a good host and spend time with your guests. Maybe you’ll even find some time to relax and enjoy your poolside retreat!

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! Beat the heat (and the line at your pool supply store) 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 friend or family member. 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”.

☐ 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. 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!

Tracy’s Tips: Do I Need to Remove Snow from My Pool Cover?

We are often asked what to do with the snow that piles up on your pool cover. The answer is simple…NOTHING!

Your pool cover is designed to sit on the water, which supports the weight of the snow and ice.  The only time the snow can cause a problem is if the water in your pool is too low, causing excess strain on the cover. If your pool water is at an optimal level, you do not need to worry about removing snow from your cover.

If you are experiencing a problem with your pool cover, we recommend that you consult a pool care professional. They will come out and take a look at your cover to address the problem and offer a custom solution. Many times you will need to wait until spring to tackle a pool cover issue.

If your pool cover is functioning as it should, the only thing you need to do is cozy up on your couch with some cocoa and daydream of the summer months!

We hope you are enjoying and sharing these pool tips with fellow pool owners. Please check back often for more of
Tracy’s Tips on our blog.

Tracy Dieselman – Owner