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The Waters Edge

Designing Safe Waters – People are naturally drawn to places where the ocean meets the shore. Water is our most important resource, our element of fun . . . its sounds, its cooling and soothing effects, its healing properties – water greatly enhances the quality of life. The water we drink and bathe in is expected to be clean, pure and free of hidden surprises.  We avoid drinking contaminated water and we take care not to get caught in undertows and dangerous currents while swimming in the sea.  But what about swimming pool safety?

With the construction of more and more private and resort pools, it is in the best interest of the owner that all safety codes and rules are followed.  Here in the BVI we do not yet have a safety code to adhere to when it comes to building swimming pools, so every home-owner must rely on their pool builders to ensure that their personal ocean is safe and remains safe.

In a controlled environment such as your back yard pool, it is seems almost unconceivable that serious dangers can “lurk” beneath the surface.  Howver each year we hear of some horrible entrapment accident in a swimming pool.  These accidents usually happen to unsuspecting and curious children who peek into a vacuum port that was “accidentally” left open, or sit on a missing main-drain cover.

Unfortunately, these accidents will continue to happen until the existing guidelines are adhered to.  All the regulations and safety issues are readily available from the US and British Governments, or from the relevant building regulatory organizations.  Sadly, some people insist that most building codes are frivolous and needn’t apply to their project.  While some codes perhaps appear far reaching, others, such as entrapment avoidance and electrical bonding of swimming pools, are just too important to your safety to be disregarded.    When you are ready to design your pool, it’s much more fun to talk about vanishing edges, fountains, shallow lounging areas, spas and massage jets.  It is, however, imperative that during the design phase care is given to the applicable codes and/or safety issues.  We simply cannot rely on a house plumber to know the maximum water velocities permissible in a pool suction plumbing system.

During the design phase, most architects will consult with structural engineers on the structural elements of the project that they are building, even though structural engineering is something they were trained in during their education.  Usually most also consult with pool designers to specify the right plumbing and equipment for the project as well as have a check of all safety related issues around the pool.  It makes for safer and better products when trained and certified specialists are collaborating in what is going to be the wettest playground of your house.

Once your pool is built, you will quickly experience how wonderful it is to have your own and safe swimming environment just steps from your home. If the system was designed right, a weekly check and cleaning should keep your pool in good shape. It takes regular maintenance to ensure that the water within stays safe, clean and pleasant. In fact, there are seven points that should be checked on a regular basis to ensure just that.   Every week testing, brushing and debris removal is a must and cannot be replaced by throwing in some chemicals . . . that would make the waters dangerous again.  Not only would it cause bather discomfort, but one could expect algae growth and even disease and a rapid deterioration of the entire pool structure and finishes.  That’s really not what you signed up for.  Oh, and don’t forget to close the vacuum port after
use . . . every time.


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