The Sensible Way
to Enjoy Your
“The safety information in this booklet
Consumer has been reviewed by the U.S. Product Safety Commission.”
There is no substitute for competent adult
supervision in the swimming pool
environment! Lives depend on you!
National Spa and Pool Institute
Founded in 1956, the National Spa & Pool Institute (NSPI) has over 4,000 members in more than 80 local chapters. NSPI members share a commitment to fair business practices and to public health and safety in the installation, maintenance and operation of pools and spas. NSPI members agree to abide by a strict code of ethics governing their business. Designed for your protection, this business ethics code is backed up by enforcement procedures at the local, regional and national level. NSPI also makes available to its members the latest scientific and technological developments through seminars, workshops, publications and an annual convention and exposition. NSPI members are leaders in their field and have the experience and expertise in new products and related services. Selecting an NSPI member means selecting quality you can trust.
This booklet has been prepared by the National Spa & Pool Institute to inform you about general safe use, operation and maintenance of your pool. It represents the current knowledge of the industry but is not intended to cover all aspects of pool design operations, installation and maintenance. Refer to specific manufacturer's instructions for more details on product installation, use, maintenance and safety and keep them along with this booklet for ready use and reference. Be sure to pass them along to future owners or renters.
Swimming pools are intended to provide many hours of enjoyment. Just as with any product, you and only you can determine if your pool is used sensibly. The key to safe use of a product is a sensible and informed consumer.
It you have an aboveground/onground pool, you should refer to the
"Sensible Way to Enjoy your Aboveground/Onground Swimming Pool"
booklet, which is a separate booklet. Diving is prohibited at all times into aboveground/onground pools.
"By carefully reading this booklet, you may save the life of a child or prevent serious harm to yourself, family members or friends. It is your responsibility to learn and understand safety principles and rules. To ensure safety, every pool owner must read this booklet."
The Sensible way to Enjoy Your Inground
Congratulations on being a pool owner. Your pool can give you, your family and guests many years of fun and relaxation.
This booklet contains important safety information you should know about operating and maintaining your pool. It will help you understand some of the causes of pool-related accidents and how to prevent them. It is your responsibility to be sure that you, your family and guests use the pool sensibly.
In addition to this booklet, it is important to read and keep all of the operating instructions, owners manuals and warranties for your pool and its equipment. Clearly understand the specifics of safe operation and proper maintenance which these publications provide. Keep these materials on file for your own reference, and pass them along to future owners or renters.
Table of Contents
The Sensible Way To Enjoy Your Inground
Good Reasons for Thinking Safety First
Downing Prevention Tips
Guidelines for Using Your pool
Headfirst Entry-Diving and Sliding
General Use of Pool Slides
One More Word on Drinking
Overall Safe Operation and Maintenance
of Your Inground Pool
Equipment In and Around the Pool
Layers of Protection
Recommended Use of Professionals
Where You Can Find More information
Good Reasons for Thinking Safety First
First-time users run the highest risk of injury
Before they enter the pool, inform them of the safety rules.
Informed users are concerned about safety because serious injuries and even death can
result from unsafe use of pools, pool equipment and associated products. Here are some
Drowning - According to the National Safety Council, drowning is a leading cause of
accidental death in this country, especially for children under five. Although the greatest
percentage of drownings occur in natural aquatic settings, (e.g., oceans, lakes, quarries, etc.)
drownings do occur in swimming pools. The water depth of any pool is sufficient for
drowning to occur. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports drowning of
children even in water buckets and toilets.
Protecting young children from accidental drownings and near drownings in all aquatic environments,
whether natural or constructed, is a primary concern of the aquatic industry, health and safety organizations
and regulatory groups. It is the responsibility of the parent, caretaker and pool owner to prevent accidents.
Paralysis - Improper diving or sliding, alcohol consumption, horseplay, or
roughhousing in and around swimming pools may lead to serious neck and spinal injuries
including paralysis, in the form of quadriplegia or paraplegia. A number of these injuries
occur yearly, with the overwhelming majority occurring in shallow water. A number of
people who ignored these rules and chose to dive into shallow water are now paralyzed.
The facts show that many of these were experienced divers. Don't let this happen to you.
Inform family and guests who come to enjoy your pool of the safety rules you have
Burns/Fires - Chemicals needed for clean, sanitized water are potentially harmful
when stored or used improperly. If mixed with other chemicals or elements, explosions and
fire can occur. Read the label and follow manufacturers' instructions. Always store
chemicals where they cannot be reached by children.
Electrical Shock/Electrocution - Water is an excellent conductor of electricity.
Electrical shock or electrocution can occur in a pool if live electrical current flowing
through appliances and devices (including current from a telephone) comes into contact
with the water. Make sure all electrical appliances and devices are protected by a ground
fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).
Cuts, Contusions and Abrasions - The pool environment, as well as associated
products and equipment, can be a source of injury to users. Slipping and falling can result
in cuts or scrapes or broken legs and arms. Horseplay, improper use of equipment or failure
to follow manufacturers' instructions or warnings can result in serious trauma and
permanently disabling injuries.
You can help ensure that your family and guests are not victims of any of these unfortunate accidents.
"Swimming pools are fun but along with the fun comes serious
responsibility. Be sure that good times are safe times. Establish rules and enforce them.”
Drowning Prevention Tips
Drowning prevention information is not "for someone else." It is for you. Because only by increased awareness and effort, can we reduce some very alarming statistics. Drowning is one of the largest causes of accidental death for children under the age of five. This is an avoidable accident, which can be prevented by constant adult supervision.
Organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Drowning Prevention Foundation, Think First, the NSPI, the Centers for Disease Control, the Council for National Cooperation in Aquatics, the YMCA of the United States, the National Rehabilitation Hospital, the National Swimming Pool Safety Committee, the Tucson Drowning Prevention Committee and the National Swimming Pool Foundation, recognize that constant adult supervision is the primary element in an integrated approach to drowning prevention.
While supervision is the key to accomplishing the objective of reducing the number of submersion incidents, it is well known that, at times, children may do the unexpected, catching their supervisors off guard. Because being caught off guard does occur and there may be a lapse in supervision, the National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI) has developed the Model Barrier Code. This Model Barrier Code establishes layers of protection to complement the requirement for constant adult supervision of young children around aquatic environments. Remember, these layers of protection will only delay and may not prevent a toddler from entering the pool area. Supervision is the only way to prevent an accident.
Children are naturally attracted to swimming pools and associated pool toys. To prevent drownings and other serious injuries, you must keep children away from pools and all bodies of water in the absence of adult supervision. Listed below are some safety tips that can help save young lives. For more information, write for the brochures entitled “Children Aren't Waterproof” and “Layers of Protection” from the National Spa and Pool Institute, 2111 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22314.
Never leave a child unsupervised and out of eye contact in or near the pool - not even
for a second. There is no substitute for constant adult supervision. (See Supervision
If you must leave the pool area, even for one minute, take your child with you. One
lapse in supervision can spell tragedy. Do not allow anyone of any age to swim alone. Examples of good safety behavior by adults are important to children.
Teach your children to swim. Three to five years of age is the best time for swimming
lessons. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security because your child knows how to swim - adult supervision is still required. Never consider children water-safe despite their swimming skills, previous instruction or experience. Many professionals warn that these
lessons may provide a false sense of security to a child's family and not actually prepare a child for surviving a true emergency.
Floating toys attract youngsters. Remove toys from the pool when not in use. Your child can easily fall
into the pool while trying to retrieve one.
Keep toys, particularly baby walkers, tricycles or wheel toys away from the pool. A child playing with these could accidentally fall into the water.
Do not rely on plastic inner tubes, inflatable arm bands or other toys to prevent accidents.
Remove vegetation and other obstacles to assure a clear view of the pool from the house.
Make certain that all doors leading from the house to the pool area have a self-closing, self-latching mechanism above the reach of toddlers to protect against unauthorized entry
and use. Limit access to the pool by locking doors or gates whenever swimming cannot be
A fence, wall or natural barrier should be of sufficient height to keep unauthorized people out of your pool. If access gates are used, they should have a self-latching or
If you use a pool cover as a safety cover, it must comply with ASTM F 1346-91 Standard Performance Specification for Safety Covers and Labeling Requirements for All Covers for Swimming Pools, Spas and
Hot tubs. Carefully read the manufacturer's directions for safe use. Always completely remove the cover
before using your pool.
Drain any standing water from the surface of your pool cover (e.g., by using a water pump). Even a small amount of water may be sufficient for a small child to drown.
Be especially alert for potential drowning accidents if you use any lightweight, floating
pool covers (i.e., solar or insulating covers). No one should walk or crawl on them. The
pool should never be used when these covers are in use because you may become
Maintain a clear zone around the perimeter of the pool. Do not place objects (e.g., chairs, tables, or equipment) near the pool barrier because a child or youngster could climb them to gain access to the pool.
Keep lifesaving equipment next to the pool. These items should remain stationary and not be misplaced.
To avoid entrapment, never use a pool if any of the grate outlets are missing or broken.
Do not permit playful screaming for help (false alarms) that might mask a real emergency.
Never leave children with caretakers or supervisors unless they are capable and responsible in the pool environment.
Supervision shall be continuous when the pool is in use. (When one supervisor is called away, i.e., to answer the door bell, another supervisor must be appointed immediately.)
When the pool is not in use, the pool owner is responsible for safeguarding the pool.
In Case of Emergency:
1. Dial the local emergency telephone numbers (9-1-1, or the appropriate 10-digit number
for Emergency Medical Service (EMS), Fire or Police). It is advisable to install a telephone (or use a cordless telephone) in the pool or spa area.
2. Give your:
B. Location, and
C. Telephone number you are calling from.
3. Tell what happened and how many people need help.
4. Don't hang up the phone until after the emergency person does. Adults in the family
should be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR is the combination of
rescue breathing and artificial circulation for victims of respiratory or cardiac arrest as a result of drowning, heart attack or other causes. CPR training is available through the
local chapters of the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.
Preventing an emergency is the best preparation:
Never leave a child alone in or near a pool, spa or any other body of water
“A telephone near the pool area will provide quicker access to a medical
facility in case of an emergency.”
"CPR training can be lifesaving."
Guidelines for Using Inground Pools
As a pool owner, you may be legally liable for the safety of all persons who use your pool. You have the ultimate responsibility. Be sure your insurance policy is updated to include
ownership of your pool.
But facing ownership responsibilities does not mean taking the fun out of using your pool. If you apply safety practices and use good judgment, you will find that the benefits of a pool can far outweigh the risks. Here are some guidelines for using your inground swimming pool.
Supervision is a key element in getting maximum, safe enjoyment from your pool. One individual must assume primary responsibility for supervising the pool. The pool supervisor must study the contents of this booklet and be thoroughly familiar with all facets of the safe operation and maintenance of the pool. He or she will take responsibility for communicating pool safety information to all persons who enter the pool area. It is a good idea to designate a backup for times when the primary supervisor is unavailable.
The supervisor is responsible for enforcing "pool rules." Draw up these rules from information in this booklet and other pool safety information you can gather from informed sources, such as the manufacturers, the YMCA or the American Red Cross. These rules should cover such things as the proper use of diving boards and slides, diving and non-diving areas, pool games, consumption of food and alcoholic beverages, pool maintenance, use of electrical appliances and the handling of chemicals. Establish rules immediately. Write them in simple language and post them where they are easy to see, near the pool. Use the safety information in this booklet to develop your safety rules.
These rules should be clearly communicated to and understood by all persons, young and old, who use your pool. Most importantly, consistently enforce these rules. Never leave the pool unsupervised. When supervision is not available, even for a moment, close the pool.
It makes sense to pay special attention to educating young children and non-swimmers about important safety precautions. Make sure that your children learn how to swim and dive (if appropriate for your pool), and that they know how to properly jump or slide into the pool. Instruction is available from community groups such as the American Red Cross, the YMCA or YWCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other similar organizations. When appropriate, you may want to also teach your children about equipment maintenance and proper upkeep of the pool. As they get older, your children will learn from your example that they must respect the swimming pool and pool area, and act responsibly.
It also makes sense for the supervisor and other responsible family members to be trained in artificial respiration and/or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Instruction is available from local community organizations. There is no substitute for adult
"Supervision, Supervision, Supervision ... is the key to prevent drowning."
To properly supervise your pool, you must be able to identify "real swimmers" from "non-swimmers." This is no easy task. A working definition of a swimmer might be someone who has achieved minimum swimming proficiency by passing a certified course of instruction. Use your best judgement - many people overestimate their abilities. Keep a watchful eye for "swimmers" who appear to flounder in your pool.
If you are uncomfortable with people's swimming abilities, make sure they stay in shallow
water and watch them closely. If you wish to teach non-swimmers or poor swimmers, the shallow end of the pool is an excellent place for instruction. Make sure they keep to the shallow end. Use a rope and float line to divide the shallow and deep ends.
Never swim alone or allow others to do so. Never swim when overtired, feeling chilled or after taking drugs or alcohol. It is best not to swim immediately after eating a heavy meal.
Describe or demonstrate to everyone the under-water shape and depth of the pool. You should be aware that visual inspection of the pool may be misleading due to a variety of factors.
Headfirst Entry - Diving and Sliding
Do not allow any diving or headfirst entry into any pool until you are sure the pool is designed for diving and meets all standards for diving pools, such as the NSPI standards. Consult your pool builder or NSPI member if you have any doubts. Do not allow diving into a pool, or any part of the pool, that is not deep enough for diving. It is recommended that "No Diving" signs be placed at all areas of the pool where diving is not appropriate.
Your first entry into a pool should be feet first so you can determine water depth and pool configuration. As a responsible pool owner, pay special attention to headfirst entry - diving and sliding. Both activities involve headfirst entry into the water at high speed - a situation that can lead to very serious, life-threatening accident.
The chief danger for divers or headfirst sliders is serious spinal injury. They may hit their heads against the bottom or side of the pool or against some object or person. Injuries to the spinal cord may result, causing temporary or permanent paralysis or death. Never use
alcohol or drugs while diving or swimming.
Research studies have shown that you cannot rely on the water alone to slow you down sufficiently to avoid injury. Protective action must be taken by the diver or headfirst slider. Serious spinal injuries can occur even at very slow speeds if the head strikes firmly against the pool bottom or side. The spine cannot absorb as great an impact as the skull can, especially if the head has been fixed against an immovable object. If you are diving or sliding headfirst and hit your head on a hard surface, your chin goes down (rotates) to your chest. Your head stops, but the rest of your body keeps on coming. You could break your neck, back and/or sever your spinal cord.
To properly supervise an inground pool that was designed to accommodate diving, you must also be able to identify "real divers" and areas or locations where diving is permitted. As with swimming, the most practical definition of a diver might be someone who has achieved minimum safe diving skills through training in a certified course of instruction. People may overestimate their abilities and claim to be "divers," so use extreme caution.
"Steer up for a safe dive."
"Too steep a dive can cause your head to hit the bottom. This can result in a
broken neck and paralysis."
While there is no substitution for diving instruction and actual practice at poolside, it is important for you to familiarize yourself, youngsters and everyone who uses the pool with the following principles of headfirst entry.
Some do's and don'ts of diving.
Do know the shape of the pool bottom and the water depth before you dive or slide
Do plan your path to avoid submerged obstacles, surface objects or other swimmers.
Do hold your head up, arms up, and steer up with your hands.
Do keep arms extended and head and hands up.
Do practice carefully before you dive or slide headfirst.
Do test the diving board for its spring before using.
Do remember that when you dive down, you must steer up.
Do dive straight ahead - not off the side of a diving board.
Don't drink and dive.
Don't dive into an aboveground pool.
Don't dive into a pool not meeting a "diving pool" standard.
Don't dive or slide headfirst in the shallow part of the pool.
Don't dive across the narrow part of pools.
Don't run and dive.