If you're enjoying your backyard pool, it's important to be careful and reduce risks. Post our pool safety checklist and review it with your family and friends before swimming.

Print out pool safety checklist

On this page:

  1. Pool safety rules
  2. Take a swimming or lifesaving course
  3. Pool fence bylaws
  4. Draining pools and hot tubs

Pool safety rules

Drowning can take as little as 10 seconds, so it’s important to be careful when you have a backyard pool. Print off our safety checklist to post near your pool. Review it with your family and visitors to make sure everyone is ready to be safe!

Follow these rules when you’re swimming:

  • never swim alone
  • alcohol and swimming don't mix
  • 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
  • never dive into an above ground pool
  • always walk on the pool deck, don't run
  • swim only during daylight hours

Children

  • an adult must supervise children whenever they are swimming or near the pool
  • the supervising adult should be trained in:
    • basic water rescue
    • first aid, including how to call 911 during an emergency
  • the Lifesaving Society recommends a minimum of Bronze Cross and Standard First Aid training for all backyard pool supervisors
  • the supervising adult must always keep children who can't swim within arm’s reach
  • safety equipment like life jackets or water wings can provide extra protection but must not replace adult supervision

Important pool equipment

Always keep these items near your pool:

  • phone and emergency phone numbers
  • first-aid kit
  • whistle or other sound signalling device
  • reaching pole
  • ring buoy
  • buoy line between shallow and deep end of pool
  • sunscreen
  • pool chemicals stored in a secure location

Check the condition of all equipment regularly.


Take a swimming or lifesaving course

We offer swimming lessons, first aid and water rescue courses. You can register for swimming lessons at any of our pools or online using ActiveNet.

For a description of each level, visit our swimming lessons page. Level descriptions are also available in Active Kitchener.


Pool fence bylaws

If you build a pool, it needs to be enclosed with a fence. Our bylaws require that:

  • if your pool (in-ground, above-ground or temporary) can hold 88.9 cm (36 inches) of water or more, you must surround it with a fence that is at least 1.5 m (5 feet) tall and you must apply for and obtain an enclosure permit
  • all gates and doors that open into the swimming pool must:
    • have a lock
    • remain locked when there is not an adult supervising the pool
  • backyard pools should have an extra fence around all four sides of the pool to prevent direct access from the home

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


Draining pools and hot tubs

Pools and hot tubs can contain harmful chemicals. Pool backwash water can pollute surface waters.

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

  • do not drain water directly into stormwater drains or parks
  • you must dechlorinate pool or hot tub water before draining it
    • let your water sit for one or two weeks without adding chemicals, or use dechlorination tablets
  • test your water before draining it 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 to lower the impact of the chemicals
  • if you have limited yard space, drain the water over time to reduce puddling and excess water
  • you must dispose of saltwater pool water safely by:
    • slowly releasing it into the sanitary sewer connection to your home
    • hiring a hauler approved by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to remove it from your yard