Our Pool Safety Tips + Experiences

When we decided to shop for a house with a pool, the first thing I did was do a deep dive on pool safety. If you are moving to a house with a pool (or even staying in one for vacation or with family) and have small children, I would recommend you take your own deep dive. In this post, I won’t be sharing any traumatic stories, but I felt it was extremely valuable to read them. I strongly recommend reading these types of stories if you have children and are in the market for a home pool. They gave me an immediate sense of urgency and erased any gray area about how important pool safety is. Drowning is the leading cause of death in children under 4 years old. In this post, I will share the two most important steps we took for our family’s safety. I am not an expert, I am just a mom with a pool.

Pool Safety Fence 
A pool safety fence is non-negotiable. It is the best way to statistically improve safety in your pool. In many places, pool safety fences are required by law. Even if it’s not required, in my opinion adding a pool safety fence is a top priority.

I understand that they are not beautiful (although some are better than others). In the future, I would ideally like to upgrade ours to a white iron fence that’s custom designed. For now, I found the best looking option I could and ordered it as soon as I found out we were moving. If you have to do a temporary option, just remember, an ugly fence is better than no fence.

After installing our fence, we taught our children that they are never allowed to touch or open the gate and that only adults can do that. Having a permanent safety fence has been the best choice for us because we spend a lot of time on our back porch.

Here’s the fence, gates and components we used to add our safety fence:

Fence Panel / Line Posts / Surface Mount / Gate

Swimming Lessons
As soon as we moved in, we began traditional swim lessons with a private teacher in our home pool (this was still during peak pandemic—so that is one reason why we chose private lessons). We did this 4-5 days a week for a month and half to get started. We moved in August and started lessons literally as our movers were moving boxes in the first day. When spring rolled around again, we did another focused month of daily lessons.

We debated between ISR and traditional swim lessons. One of our children was a little too old for ISR swim lessons so we opted for traditional swim lessons for both of them. We made sure that learning to float safely was the first skill taught in their swim lessons.

Private swim lessons are considerably more expensive, but being able to get the frequency where our kids learned really fast was important to us. It was probably the best thing we spent money on last year and I could probably list 100 things I would rather remove from our budget than private swim lessons. They were worth it.

Note: I will leave it to you to research ISR vs. traditional swim lessons for your children. They are very age dependent. I have heard that some ISR lessons teach some swimming, while many only teach floating, so keep this in mind. My advice is to communicate your goals really clearly to your child’s swim instructor. Our goal was increasing safety from pool accidents.

There are a million more things I could include here. We haven’t tried a water alarm and we don’t have a pool cover (our pool is kidney shaped, but if it was rectangle I would have installed a remote cover for sure). In my opinion, a pool cover is not a replacement for a safety fence because most people will not leave it covered at all times, but do your own research.

Ultimately, pool safety is SO IMPORTANT. Although I am not an expert, I do want to share that becoming responsible pool owners is something we put a lot of time, money and energy into. If you don’t want to be bothered with all these things, I would simply just not get a home pool.

Our family has been making so many amazing memories in our home pool and it’s been totally worth all the extra precautions and responsibilities. Thanks so much for reading. Feel free to add your own experiences in the comments. xx- Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Kelly. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • I just wanted to say that I appreciate very much you sharing your experience and commitment to being so focused on safety. As someone who works professionally in the area of child safety, it warmed my heart and made me feel grateful.

  • I think the fence looks good.

    I do have a question – are pool fences not a legal requirement where you are? They are in country and there are certain standards they have to meet. Home pools get inspected to make sure fences are in place and plans for new pools must include suitable fences otherwise they won’t get consent. I just assumed this was the same everywhere, but perhaps not.

    • Hi Andrea,
      Pool fencing regulations are definitely a local government thing. Where we live it’s not a requirement to have a permanent safety fence between your house and the pool- in many places it is. When we purchased our home there was no safety fence and the majority of houses I see online in our area don’t have them.

      • I always find it interesting how different countries handle these things. Thanks for the insight.

  • We did ISR swim lessons when my 1st son was a little over 3, worth every penny! I also read a bunch of sad poop/water related stories and it made it a big priority. My in laws have a pool with zero safety features so ISR was a huge anxiety relief for me.
    He finished his refresher lessons and the teacher added in a little swimming strokes along with the floating sequence.
    Trying to get our 2nd son who is 7 months to sit up on his own so he can start ISR.

    Another important part of pool safety is highlighting that floaties can be dangerous for kids, they give them a false sense of security in the water instead of a healthy fear. They also teach kids to be in a vertical position in the water, which as our teacher puts it ‘is a drowning position’.

    Thank for writing this!

  • Are’t the children climbing over the fence? Forbidden is always appealing.

    • No, our three and six year old can not climb over this fence. We feel much more safe with the fence.

  • We have the ring sensors on our doors so we can know if our kids ever open the back or front door. I don’t know if that’s different from a pool alarm but I imagine having a sensor on the gate would be helpful!

  • So important Elsie! As a former lifeguard and someone who grew up with a pool and (now as a mom I bring my kids to Nana’s pool) I’d add to this the “always within arms reach rule”. Even with a life jacket, kids should always be within arms reach of an adult (who is a strong swimmer!) if they are in or around the water. And even if kids are good swimmers they need constant, undistracted supervision. Kids can drown in the time it takes to respond to a text or start a load of laundry. Sadly, my neighbors had a friend’s kid drown in their pool and the tragic thing was that it was totally preventable. I agree that owning a pool is SO FUN but come with a heavy responsibility, and if you aren’t willing to take it seriously like you do, you shouldn’t own one.

  • Very informative!! This was so helpful.
    Also, any tips on the care of a pool? Would love to hear how you clean up, filter, etc. your family pool.

    • Hi Erica,
      We have a pool guy who comes once per week so we almost never have to clean it. But we do keep a pool skimmer for once in a while when it’s really windy. :))

  • Thank you for this post! I’m not on Instagram so I’m sure you shared pictures of the fence there but it is always a relief to know parents with pools understand the serious nature of having them with children. Being on a public platform obviously you know better than anyone how people come out of the woodwork to “voice their concerns”. But while no one has the right to criticize or judge, I think everyone just wants to see your kids stay safe, and despite best intentions not everyone does understand the severity and responsibility of having a pool, and how easily drowning can happen. So I’m just really glad to see you’ve put in the work and money to ensure your children safety. I know we’re all doing the best we can but we can’t assume everyone is educated on this subject, otherwise drownings wouldn’t continue to happen. So thanks for sharing!
    There’s always things to learn. Here’s an article I found really helpful with some information I’d never heard before. We now always make our kids wear life vests at the lake.

  • This is so important, but on a side note, I actually like your fence!

    • I agree! This is probably the cutest pool safety fence I’ve seen! It definitely matches the aesthetic of the backyard, at least to my untrained eye 😉

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