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Many homeowner associations enjoy a community pool. As summer heated up, so did pool activity. Unfortunately, all this comes with a certain amount of risk. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 250 children die annually from private pool drownings and another 2600 are hospitalized.

A few seconds lapse in parental supervision is responsible most of the time. How can these tragedies be avoided? Practice an approach called "layers of protection."

Fabulous Fencing: Pool fences are by far the most effective deterrent against drowning but must be properly designed. Fences should be at least four feet high and designed to be "non-climbable." With chain link fencing, this means the mesh opening should be 1.25" or less, too small for a toddler to get a toe hold on. With iron fences, spacing between vertical bars can be no more than 4". Horizontal supports must be mounted facing the pool and spaced greater then 45" apart.

The weakest link in all fencing is the gate. Gates must be self-closing and self-latching so they slam shut if inadvertently left open. Moreover, gate latches should be mounted at least 54 inches off the ground and have child-proof release mechanisms.

Baby fencing, a secondary fence installed closer to the pool's edge, is also an option where the fence encloses the yard but not the pool. Baby fencing may keep young children out of harms way but won't work for toddlers that climb. Still, it adds yet another layer to your protection scheme.

If aesthetics are a concern, think about installing black fencing. With a little landscaping, black fencing is practically invisible. If maintenance is a concern, invest in vinyl fencing. It's more costly but lasts a long time and needs virtually no maintenance.

Cool Pool Covers: Pool covers provide the next layer of protection. There are several choices. Vinyl covers held down with weights may keep the pool clean -- but these covers are unsafe if children fall in and get trapped inside. A better choice is a self-draining mesh cover with a spring-based fastening system that disappears when the cover is not in use, these covers are stretched taut across the pool and can support the weight of a child plus several rescuers. Mesh covers cost about $1500 and support up to 3500 pounds.

Awesome Alarms: Install alarms on doors leading to the pool. If the door is opened without depressing a child-proof bypass button, the alarm sounds within 7 seconds and stays on until disabled. The alarm is also effective in preventing adults from leaving a door open. If a door is left open for more than 10 seconds, even after pressing the bypass button, it rings again. Door alarms are an inexpensive way to make sure everyone thinks about pool safety.

So there are three fabulous, cool and awesome layers of protection to keep your pool safe. Don't be a fool. Install these cool pool tools and you'll rule.

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