Pool ladders and steps are specifically built to provide access to your pool, but also to keep your kids safe from the water when they are unsupervised.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSA) states that in 2017, approximately 4,523 individuals were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to pool equipment such as pool ladders and pool covers.  These injuries can be quite serious and may include broken bones, contusions and more.

Let’s take a look at some things you’ll want to consider to ensure a safe pool area:

Shopping for Pool Ladders: Safety Considerations

The CPSA administers a set of voluntary safety standards, which includes the need for a physical barrier that can prevent children from swimming behind the ladder or accessing an above-ground pool from the outside.

Here are some additional considerations for safe pool ladders:

  • Decks:

Whether or not you have a deck that meets the edge of your pool will determine the type of pool entry you’ll need. An indoor pool or an above-ground pool with a deck will only require that you have steps inside your pool. However, an above-ground pool without a deck means that you also need a set of stairs outside of the pool.

  • Steps vs. Pool Ladders:

There are many options that allow for access to your pool. Ladder rungs are a popular choice, however steps provide a sturdier entry into the pool. Plus, if someone is struggling in the water, steps also create a surface at which they can catch their bearings.

  • Railings:

Having a railing on your pool steps can be a big help to those who may have a difficult time climbing, such as an elderly person or someone with a disability. Railings also help to train children to gradually acclimate themselves to the pool.

  • Weighing Things Down:

Most ladders or steps need to be weighed down, such as with a bag of sand. As the ladder or unsecured steps can float a bit, the weight will help to keep them from being wobbly when someone is climbing them. This provides stability for anyone entering or leaving the pool – this way they are less likely to slip or lose their footing. 

Use Multiple Layers of Protection 

The biggest function and benefit of pool ladders is also its biggest danger: easy access to your swimming pool.

You should consider the needs of your child and anyone else who may visit your pool.  For instance, an A-frame ladder is a popular standard option for able-bodied individuals, but may make it more difficult for someone with disabilities to enter the water.  In this way, you want your pool to be accessible to all.

That said, you must be mindful to use the safety features of your pool ladder or steps so that a child or pet doesn’t access the pool when they are unsupervised: outside rungs are usually removable on A-frame ladders, and outside steps often have a gate that locks to prevent entry.

Still, where there is a will, there is a way.  A viral video last summer caused quite a stir when it demonstrated a 2-year-old climbing locked pool steps, making his way into the pool.  This video served as an important reminder that you should never rely solely on these features.  You should always use multiple layers of protection to prevent tragedies such as drownings.

Beyond pool ladders, here are some additional layers of protection to help keep your pool area safe:

Paired with active supervision, this is possibly the single most important step you can take for your safety.

  • Alarms:

Consider having an alarm on windows or doors, as well as on the pool fence. This will alert you should anyone make their way toward the water. This is especially helpful for households with children and/or pets.

  • Training:

Make sure that anyone who enters your pool has taken swim lessons. Anyone who is supervising the swimmers also should be trained with first aid and CPR.