Backyard pool safety


Backyard pools can provide endless enjoyment for families, friends and neighbours each summer. However, pools can also pose significant risk if proper safety precautions are not taken by homeowners - and respected by those spending time in or around a pool.

Download, print and post the following rules for your backyard pool and our pool safety checklists for kids and adults to help keep everyone safe. Or, develop your own safety policies, including:

  • Never swim alone. Even strong swimmers need to swim with a buddy.
  • Alcohol and swimming don't mix. Alcohol is involved in over one-third of all preventable water-related deaths in Canada.
  • Never swim during a thunderstorm.
  • Never use the pool when you cannot see the bottom of the entire pool.
  • Jump, don't dive into shallow water. No one should ever dive into an above ground pool.
  • Always walk on the pool deck, don't run.
  • Swim only during daylight hours.

Keep the following pool-safety facts in mind at all times:

Backyard pools require adult supervision

Always designate one adult to be responsible for supervising swimmers in the pool and around the pool deck. This adult's primary responsibility is accident prevention.

The supervising adult should be trained in basic water rescue and first aid knowledge, including how to call 911 during an emergency. The Lifesaving Society recommends a minimum of Bronze Cross and Standard First Aid certification for all backyard pool supervisors.

If you're not within arms reach, you've gone too far!

  • Children require additional supervision around the water.
  • Children who can't swim need to be accompanied into the pool by an adult and kept within arms reach at all times.
  • Never leave a swimmer unattended, even for a minute. Drowning can occur in as little as 10 seconds. A lapse in supervision for only a few seconds can lead to tragedy. Most drowning victims cannot call out or wave for help.

Equipment is not a substitute for adult supervision

Lifejackets, water wings, pool noodles and other pool toys do not ensure the safety of swimmers.

Personal flotation devices may be used in the pool to provide additional safety for non-swimmers. These approved flotation devices should be used in conjunction with adult supervision.

Never leave toys floating when the pool is not in use. Children can easily fall into the water when reaching for toys from the pool deck.

Important backyard pool equipment

Every backyard pool should have the following items on the deck:

  • Telephone and emergency phone numbers
  • First Aid Kit
  • Whistle or other sound signaling device
  • Reaching pole
  • Ring buoy
  • Buoy line between shallow and deep end of pool
  • Sunscreen
  • Pool chemicals stored in a secure location

The condition of all equipment should be checked frequently.

Is your pool fence safe?

We have bylaws to help keep your backyard pool safe. These include:

  • All swimming pools designed to hold a minimum of 88.9 cm. (36 inches) of water must be enclosed with a fence that is a minimum of 1.5 m. (five feet) in height.
  • All gates and doors opening into the swimming pool, or the pool area, must be equipped with locking devices and kept locked, unless a responsible adult is present and supervising the pool.
  • For additional protection, backyard pools should be enclosed with an additional fence around all four sides of the pool to prevent direct access from the house.

For more information about permit requirements for backyard pools, call us at 519-741-2312.

Take a swimming or lifesaving course

It's never too early or late to learn to swim! We offer courses in swimming, first aid and water rescue. Course schedules are available in Active Kitchener. Register for at any of our pools or online using Active NET.

Learn more

Check out the following resources for more information:

The Lifesaving Society's Backyard Pool Safety Guidelines provides in-depth information on keeping your backyard pool safe. The guidelines focus on the drowning problem, prevention and supervision of backyard pools.

Draining pools and hot tubs

Pools and hot tubs can contain harmful chemicals such as salts, chlorine, bromine and algaecides that are harmful to aquatic life. Pool backwash water containing sediment can cause sediment pollution of surface waters.

When draining your pool or hot tub, follow these guidelines:

  • water should not be drained directly into stormwater drains or parks
  • chlorinated pool or hot tub water must be dechlorinated before it is discharged (let your water sit for one or two weeks without adding chemicals, or use dechlorination tablets)
  • test your water before discharge to ensure it follows regulations - safe discharge levels for chlorine and bromine are 0.1 mg/L or lower
  • drain the water slowly on your property – this will reduce the impact of the chemicals (through filtration and volatilization)
  • if you have limited yard space, drain the water over time to reduce ponding and runoff
  • saltwater pool water must be hauled away or slowly released into the sanitary sewer connection to your home.

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