Consider purchasing a self-closing gate that can support itself with or without the frame. This way, if the frame is eroded or damaged for any reason, your self-closing gate is still there to stop anyone from entering the pool area unsupervised. The technician who installs your pool fence and gate should be able to tell you whether or not the kind of fencing you've purchased will allow you to have this kind of gate. If not, ask what sort of modifications you can make on your self-closing gate to make it as safe as possible.
When you are watching your child in the swimming pool, if you must leave for any reason (to answer a phone or knock on the door), always take your child with you and always close the gate to the swimming pool area.
While most gates are self-closing gates, you should still be sure that it is securely shut locked. Do this even if you are only leaving the area for a minute or two, because in most instances, that is all the time it takes children to drown or severely injure themselves.
One of the biggest maintenance headaches on self-closing gates today are the hinges. Self-closing gate hinges rust and deteriorate easily, so consider shopping around to find a self-closing gate with hinges made of products that are rust-resistant and come with a lifetime warranty that protects you when they begin to deteriorate. This way if something should happen to your gate, it will be easily replaceable. A swimming pool fencing contractor will be able to tell you which product would work best for your gate and fence.
Self-closing gates and other entryways to above-ground swimming pools should be kept locked at all times. If your fence is not quite high enough, or even if it is, consider adding a key or combination lock to the self-closing gate for added protection. The lock should be waterproof or covered to protect it from being damaged or rusting from constant contact with water. Do not tell your children where the key is hidden or what the combination it to ensure that they will not enter the swimming pool area unsupervised.
A layered alarm system is another great form of protection for your swimming pool area. Consider installing an alarm on the entrance to the home that borders the swimming pool area as well as one on the self-closing gate that gives access to the swimming pool. The alarm should be waterproof and secured to protect against the possibility of tampering. This gives you added insurance against someone entering the swimming pool area through the self-closing gate without authorization.
Always remember that a self-closing gate should open away from the swimming pool. When your swimming pool fence is being constructed, make sure that the self-closing gate to your swimming pool will swing outward and away from the pool at all times. A gate that opens inward presents a hazard because it could help to propel a child into the water upon entry.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|