The chilly winter is finally behind us and it's time to think about jumping in the pool. Consider safety as you kick-start the swimming season, not only for children, but also for your pets and other wildlife. According to recent statistics, there are more than 8 million swimming pools in the United States, and an estimated 1 of every 1,027 pets drown in pools each year. Here are some safety tips from the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and petplace.com to help you lower the risk of animals drowning in pools. Times staff writer
• Don't leave pets unsupervised in a yard with a pool. Not all dogs are good swimmers.
•Try to keep pets from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.
•Install a see-through fence around the pool to keep out animals.
• When building a pool, design lounge ledges along the sides. These are usually just below the water's surface and allow animals shallow areas from which to drink and an easy escape route from the water. Remember to show your dog where the exits are, and teach him or her several times.
• Keep doors to the pool securely closed. Many dogs and cats can nose open doors, so make sure there is no gap between the door jam or sliding glass door runner and the door itself.
• Buy a floating pool alarm device. These float in your pool and go off if the surface of the pool is disturbed. Have it designed so the alarm sounds outside and inside your home. Infrared beams can also alert you.
• Disperse knotted nylon ropes at strategic locations along the sides. Make sure the knot is at the water's surface so the animal can more easily climb out. (This technique only works for climbing animals, such as raccoons, mice and squirrels).
• Install one or more water-exit devices such as the Skamper-Ramp (www. skamper-ramp.com/home.asp?pid=1) or Frog Log (www.froglog.us/). Both are buoyant devices that are placed in the water along the pool's edge and allow animals to get out on their own. Because of their white color they are highly visible to animals.
• Make sure your pool's chemical balance is correct to keep your pets from getting sick.
•Hose down your dog with freshwater after playtime to get the chlorine out of the fur.
Sources: www.humanesociety.org, www.aspca.org, www.petplace.com