Tips for Keeping a Safe Swimming Pool in Massachusetts This Summer

swimming pool

swimming poolYour swimming pool is your backyard oasis, a fun and refreshing place to beat the heat. To keep children and others safe this summer, we urge Massachusetts property owners to secure and properly maintain pools at all times. Take these steps now to help prevent injuries and drownings:

Secure your pool. In Massachusetts, pool owners are required to have fencing which stands at least 48 inches tall. Openings in the fence must be less than 4 inches in diameter. All doors to pool areas must have self-latching and self-closing devices. Homes with doors which open into the pool area must use pool alarms.

Walk around your pool fence now to look for areas which have been damaged. Make repairs right away.

Plan your pool barriers. Slow children down at every opportunity. Safety covers for pools and hot tubs are physical barriers and visual reminders which help keep children out. Remove pool ladders when you leave the pool. Lock them in pool sheds or other secured areas.

You can also place strategic barriers between your house and the pool or your neighborhood and your pool. For example, you could plant tall shrubs to restrict the line of sight from the street.

Landlines, not cell phones. Bring cell phones to the pool just in case. But set them aside so you don’t become distracted by them. Instead, rely on your portable landline phone. This is the best way to call 911. In Massachusetts, 911 calls made on cell phones are typically routed to State Police, then to a local police department or emergency response. You have to assume State Police do not know your location information until you tell them and this may delay response time.

Pool alarms. Purchase a pool alarm that will sound if anyone enters the pool area. There are many different types of alarms, including those which are triggered by movement in the water and others with wristbands you can put on your child. Do your research online and visit your local pool store for ideas.

Supervise children and teach them to swim. If you have children, teach them to swim as soon as you can. Sign them up for swim lessons each year so they continue to grow stronger. Sign yourself up for CPR and review the steps each summer.

Swim with young children, keeping them within your reach at all times. Supervise your children in the pool. If you have to leave the pool area, wait to leave together. No one else will ever watch your children with as much focus as you do.

Guests at your pool and your home. Limit the number of guests you invite to your pool and your home. If you are swimming with guests, your goal is to eliminate as many distractions as possible so you can watch your children and others swim. If you invite children, invite parents too. Watch children closely before and after they enter or exit the pool area.

You always have to be on guard if you invite people over, even if you are not inviting them to use the pool. If a  young child was separated from their parents for whatever reason, could that child make it past your pool fence?

Set up an age-appropriate pool area. As children grow, each year is different. Try to delay some of the steps when it comes to the pool. For instance, you can remove your diving board so children will not be tempted. Many pool owners, even those without children, have chosen to retire diving boards because of the risk for serious head injuries if someone slips or hits their head.

Hold off on taking your child into the deep end until they are strong enough. Do not let anyone bring toys with small strings, cords or small pieces into the pool area. Remove rafts which are floating unattended so you can see every inch of the pool.

We are not saying don’t enjoy your pool. Just take it one step at a time and evaluate how you keep and secure the pool area on a regular basis.

Flotation devices. Invest in pool life jackets for your children. Make sure they are “Coast Guard approved.” Check online for reviews and product recalls on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

Preventing Drownings and Injuries
As a pool owner, you have a responsibility to keep your pool safe and clear from hazards to guests and children. If someone is injured in your pool due to your negligence, you could be held liable for their injuries.

  • Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children age 1-4 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Children under age 5 and those 15-24 have the highest rates of drowning (CDC).
  • In 2014, there were 346 fatal drownings of children under 5 years old in the U.S., according to Pool Safely.

Young children are the most vulnerable around swimming pools. But they are not the only ones at risk around water. Summer comes and many of us let our guard down. Drownings can result when someone is swimming alone or without a lifeguard. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4,000 people die each year by drowning. Adults can reduce the risk for injury by swimming in pairs and avoiding alcohol consumption when they swim. Teenagers should only swim with supervision.

The bottom line is pools are a responsibility. Drownings are 100 percent preventable. We must be vigilant all summer long to prevent drownings and it begins with keeping a safe and secure pool.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured in premises liability and swimming pool accidents. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Talk to Your Loved Ones About Supervising Children by the Pool. This is the Most Important Job of Summer.

The long and lazy days of summer are finally here and many of us are spending them by the pool. We hope you enjoy these times with your friends and family. And please remember to think about safety.

Each year in the U.S., nearly 5,000 children under age 15 are treated for pool- or spa-related injuries at hospital emergency rooms, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Nearly 400 children under age 15 are killed in swimming pool and spa drownings. More than 75 percent of these children are under the age of 5 and the majority of these deaths occur at private residences. But injuries can happen at any pool where someone stops paying attention or is negligent, including hotel swimming pools, community centers and other places.

Prevent injuries this summer by talking about the rules of safety with your family and friends.

Pool Owners. You have a responsibility to keep your pool area safe for family and invited guests and to secure it from others. You must keep your pool behind a fence which is at least four feet tall and secures with a self-latching and self-closing gate. But we encourage you to go a step further. Try walking around your fenced-in pool area. Are there areas where a young child could easily get in on their own? If so, make adjustments.

If you have questions, a good resource is your town’s local building department.

Drain Covers. Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings which could cause entrapment.

Home Spa Safety. If you have a home spa, install and use a child-proof locked safety cover to keep children out.


Watch Children Closely. Before the swimming season, learn CPR. Then when you head to the pool, set aside all distractions and watch the children. Avoid distractions such as reading, cell phone calls, and texting–supervision should be treated like a job.

When supervising young children, swim with them and practice “touch supervision.” For older children, watch them and be involved with them even if you are not swimming. Talk to them and let them know if they are doing something they should not be. If you are part of a group of adults watching children swim, designate someone the “pool watcher” so that the children are supervised at all times. But still supervise your own children at all times.

Likewise, at hotel and community pools, do not rely on lifeguards to watch your children.

Dress Children Appropriately. Make sure children are not wearing swimming suits or hair accessories that can get caught in pool drains or other openings.


Poolside Toys. Many pool accidents involve diving board, sports equipment, rafts and pool slides. Always look before you use. If something looks unsteady, do not use it.

Many pools no longer have diving boards because homeowner’s insurance companies have stopped providing coverage for them. But if you are going to dive, make sure the water is at least 10 feet deep.

Avoid portable pool slides, inflatable toys and using backyard trampolines with the pool. These products may not be designed for use with a pool or may be defective. In one Massachusetts case, a Colorado woman visiting the state died in 2006 after she slid down a Banzai brand inflatable slide at a backyard pool. It partially deflated, causing her to strike her head on concrete by the pool. The Consumer Product Safety Commission later recalled 21,000 of the Banzai brand inflatable slides and continues to recall unsafe pool toys and equipment each year.

Broken Glass. Do not bring beer bottles and glass out to the pool. Serious accidents can happen if the glass breaks in or near the pool and someone steps in it. If there is broken glass in the pool, it will be invisible and therefore impossible to find safely. Beyond injury, you will have a lot of clean-up. First you will have to drain the pool and then you will have to sweep it thoroughly.
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Be Safe in Massachusetts Pools This Summer

The warm weather is here and that means many Massachusetts residents can be found poolside. The pool is a fun spot for all ages, but it also poses safety risks. These risks can be reduced by the use of good judgment and common sense.

We want you and your loved ones to be safe. Sadly, each year, more than 300 children under 5 years old drown in residential swimming pools – often pools belonging to their own family. More than 2,000 children the same age are treated in hospital emergency rooms for pool-related injuries.

Here are common sense safety tips to help keep your family safe around the swimming pool:

  • Learn CPR and make sure babysitters and older siblings have CPR training.
  • Do not allow children to swim without supervision, even if they have attended swimming lessons.
  • If a child is missing, check the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Install a fence or barrier around your pool. The fence should be at least 4 feet high and have a self-closing, self-latching gate.
  • If the fence is chain link, then no part of the diamond-shaped opening should be larger than 1-3/4 inches.
  • Install a pool alarm to alert an adult when someone enters the pool area unauthorized. A key pad switch alarm allows adults to pass through without setting off the alarm.
  • Keep rescue equipment and a phone with emergency numbers by the pool.
  • If there are multiple adults at the pool, designate one person the pool-watcher to avoid distractions.
  • Ladders leading from the pool to the ground or to a pool deck should be locked or removed when the pool is out of use.
  • Remove toys that may attract children from in and around the pool when they are not in use.

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