Beat the heat but be prepared.
Swimming pools are a valuable commodity -- indoors or out. They're a recreational way to beat the blazing heat, have a spot of fun and get in some cardio exercise. As long as safety is a priority, swimming's an activity almost anyone can enjoy. Check your neighborhood's guidelines before building a backyard pool, and stop into your local pool store for needed equipment and chemical supplies.
Strip Test Before You Dip
Stagnant, untreated water breeds microscopic critters that can make swimmers sick, so keep a water testing kit on hand. Test your pool four times a week during the summer and once a week when it's cooler but the pool's still open. The first time you test, though, collect a small water sample using a clean glass jar and take it to a local pool supply store. They'll analyze the sample, and point you toward the right combination of chemicals.
Nets and Vacuums
Just like carpet, your pool's bottom won't clean itself. You'll need a vacuum -- manual or automatic, either will do. With a manual, you'll walk outside the pool, holding a long pole with the vacuum attached at the end. But with a manual you'll need to take things slow. Fast movement upsets the water and can shift dirt away from the vacuum. Automatic vacuums, though, roam your pool bottom without help. The can free your arms for skimming loose leaves with a net. Because the vacuum uses a cord plugged into an external outlet, keep people away until the vacuum has been removed.
Fence Them Out
Children and critters can wander into unsecured pools. In fact, every day, there are an estimated 10 drowning deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Screened, interlocking fencing with latched gates surround pools and keep out unwanted guests. But check your gates: metal, lockable latches and durable, nylon mesh are safety musts. Your homeowner's insurance will require a safety enclosure as well.
Invest in Safety
Equip your pool area with safety essentials, and then get the party started. Must haves include flotation devices, a long pole, a safety net and life vests for little kids and inexperienced swimmers. First aid kits are a valuable tool. Make sure they're always fully stocked. Keeping an inventory list may remind you to restock when supplies run low. Consider taking a CPR and basic first aid class too. Never bring electronics near the pool, or where someone can trip over loose cords either. Electronics toys don't belong poolside, either. Above all else, don't let children in the pool area without an adult.