Is Your Backyard Pool a Safe Summer Escape?

Swimming in a backyard pool can be a refreshing way for families to have fun and exercise. But it can also be dangerous, especially for young children.

On average, about 370 children under age 15 drown in pools and spas each year in the United States, and about 6,300 sustain pool- or spa-related injuries that require emergency treatment. Most of these deaths and injuries involve children younger than age five.1 In fact, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages one to four.2 And yet, all of these tragedies are preventable.

To promote a culture of safer swimming pool usage, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) maintains a "Pool Safely" campaign that emphasizes proven water safety steps and offers educational materials, including two pledges — one for children and another for adults. If you’d like to take these pledges, you can do so at They include some key tips and guidelines for keeping children safer around a pool.

Kid Pledge

I pledge that I will:

  • Pool Safely in 2023.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Ask my parents to sign me up for swimming lessons.
  • Stay away from drains in the pool or hot tub.
  • Have fun and always follow these safety steps when I'm in and around the water.

Adult Pledge

I pledge that I will:

  • Designate a water watcher every single time children in my care are in or near the water.
  • Make sure my kids know how to swim.
  • As a parent or guardian, learn CPR.
  • Always remove portable pool ladders when not in use.
  • Ensure that all permanent pools have a proper fence and gate and safer drain covers.

Safety Guidelines

Be sure to share these guidelines with family, friends, neighbors, babysitters, and anyone else who may be supervising a pool or entering a pool area.

  • Never leave a child unattended around a pool, spa, bathtub, or any body of water. Consider this Rule #1.
  • Have a phone available at all times when supervising or visiting a pool or spa.
  • If a child is missing, look in the pool or spa first, including neighbors’ pools or spas.
  • Install a four-foot fence around the perimeter of the pool and spa, including portable pools. Use self-closing and self-latching gates. If your house serves as the fourth side of a fence around a pool, install and use a door or pool alarm.
  • Ensure that any pool or spa you use has safety-compliant drain covers. Commercial facilities are required by law to have such covers, but you should apply the same standards to your own pool.
  • Have life-saving equipment such as life rings, floats, or a reaching pole available and easily accessible.
  • Don't leave toys and floats in the pool when not in use. They could be tempting to young children who might fall in when reaching for them.
  • Clearly post water depth. Don't allow diving into shallow water.
  • Limit alcohol use. Drinking not only can cause accidents for the drinker but may also lead to poor judgment and lack of attention when supervising children.
  • Remove glass bottles, toys, and other potential hazards from the pool area, and don’t allow running or roughhousing on or near wet, slippery surfaces. Make sure that devices with electrical cords are kept away from the water.
  • Be aware of other electrical hazards around pools and spas, such as faulty underwater lighting; aging electrical wiring that hasn’t been inspected regularly; and the use of sump pumps, power washers, and vacuums that aren’t grounded. Lighting, circuits, and nearby receptacles should be protected by Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs).
  • Know how to shut off pumps, filters, and other devices. Clearly post shut-off information, so others will know what to do in an emergency.

Safe Handling of Pool Chemicals

The chemicals used to treat the water in swimming pools have also been known to cause serious injuries. Here are some guidelines for handling and using pool chemicals safely.

  • Secure pool chemicals in their original containers and in an appropriate location. Don’t leave chemicals out where children (or pets) have access to them.
  • Open and handle chemicals in a well-ventilated area. Wear appropriate safety equipment, such as goggles or a mask, as directed by the label.
  • Add pool chemicals as directed by the product label. Never mix different chemicals, especially chlorine with acid. Pre-dissolve chemicals only when directed by the label. Add pool chemicals to water, but never add water to pool chemicals.
  • Wait until pool chemicals are dissolved and/or dissipated before entering the pool.

Insurance Coverage

Be sure to notify your insurance company that you have a pool and discuss appropriate coverage with your insurance professional.

In legal terms, pools are an “attractive nuisance,” and the additional risk may call for greater liability protection. If you own a pool, consider increasing your homeowners policy liability limits to $300,000 or $500,000. You might also purchase an umbrella policy that could provide higher liability limits and extra protection for a wider range of risks.

In addition to liability coverage, it might be wise to have enough homeowners coverage to repair or replace your pool if it is damaged in a severe storm or other type of disaster. Coverage for earthquake damage requires a separate policy.